A wide range of amulets, talismans, and charms meant to bring good luck to their owners have been used probably for as long as humans have existed. The desire for divine or spiritual protection spans all cultures and all historical periods.
The ancient Egyptians, for instance, believed the scarab beetle helped ward off evil. In Turkey, a blue eye-shaped amulet called Nazar Boncugu is used as protection and can be found in shops, businesses, cars and is also a popular souvenir to take home. Christians wear crucifixes. Many sportspeople place their faith in any object or act they feel will bring them good luck.
So the question now is why is a rabbit’s foot used as a lucky charm or for protection against evil spirits? The tradition of carrying the foot of a rabbit probably comes from ancient tribes which worshiped their animal ancestors, and carried parts of that animal as protective totems.
The Celts are known to have associated rabbits with good fortune some 2500 years ago. According to Celtic folklore, since rabbits lived in burrows deep underground, they were able to keep in touch with the gods and spirits of the underworld.
In the 16th century, Reginald Scot mentions that a good way to ease the pain of arthritis is to carry around a rabbit’s foot. This was later probably blended with African American folk magic.
In hoodoo, an American mash-up of African folk spirituality and European traditions, a rabbit’s foot became a common item used for various things. However, not just any foot would do. The left rear foot was preferred, as left had long been associated with evil.
Another thing that probably made a rabbit’s foot such a widespread symbol of luck is rabbits’ well-known breeding habits. As a result, some people have carried rabbit’s feet around to help in fertility.
So you think this is silly, right? Maybe, but even today many buildings skip a 13th floor, many airlines don’t have a row 13 on their aircraft, and, lots of people avoid holding important events, or going on trips on Friday the 13th. Yes, many people are way more superstitious than they are ready to admit.
Happy English learning!!