Numerous are the customs and traditions we stick to in order to bring about good luck for a new year. This year, we are expecting an entirely new decade to begin, and I bet a number of you have already made plans how to change their lives, have bought bubbly, might pour molten lead to predict the future, or decorate their party with symbols of good luck. And countless symbols there are. But why these and not others? Let’s look just into one of them – funny enough one that doesn’t play on a magic number like 3 or 7, but on 4.
What’s so special about four-leafed clover? Well, be honest and ask yourselves how often you have found any – because there are approximately 10,000 three-leafed clovers for every four-leafed one. Funny enough, my late mother was an intriguingly clever spotter of them and found more than I would ever have thought possible! Well, we all know that rare things are specially coveted. I, for one, only spot them in garden centers. And to this day, nobody is sure whether four-leafed clovers are caused genetically or environmentally. Does it really matter?
Anyhow, I strongly suspect that the roots for connecting good luck with four-leafed clovers lie way back in the pagan times. For the first three leaves are symbolizing hope, faith, and love; and you are right when this reminds you of St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In Ireland, it used to be helpful to explain the Holy Trinity by use of clover. But then, they were obviously flustered when they realized that there were species with a fourth leaf. Now, what would they attribute to the fourth leaf to cover up paganism? For once, the ancient beliefs must have been stronger, for the fourth leaf was supposed to bring luck to the finder or grant the power to see fairies, whatever that might be useful for – unless you may ask them a wish, of course.
In the mid-1600s, four-leafed clover was cultivated in gardens as a healing plant to prevent “the purples”, a condition of the blood vessels underneath the skin. It was, therefore, also called “purple grass”. In the mid-1800s, young girls started making it a custom to look for four-leafed clover to find perfect happiness. But superstition also still spoke of sorceresses gathering the plant during the full moon. Of course, nobody would have been able to spot any during new moons.
Today, we find four-leafed clovers as lucky symbols on all kinds of greeting cards, on the tickets sold by some state lotteries, on the club badge of the famous Celtic Football Club, as the logo of all kinds of agrarian parties and clubs, and, Lo and behold!, even in space! Because the aerospace company SpaceX has made it their custom to send a patch embroidered with a four-leafed clover on each and every space mission of theirs, a tradition that started in 2008. I still believe it’s rather the capabilities of rocket engineers and their teams to send those mighty heavy things into space, not the picture of a symbol. Not even a pot of real live four-leafed clovers.
You get my gist, and I have a hunch you might agree with me. It’s fun to have some lucky symbol decoration when you hope that you and your loved ones will have luck in a specific situation. Or when entering a new year, a new decade … So much better than seriously believing it might cause a change in your life or even foretell you your fortune, as maybe our ancestors would have. Imagine their anxiety if they didn’t find any four-leafed clover in their entire life-time!
I have given up on searching for these rare little green things. My life has been filled with what some might call a good amount of good luck and what I would call wonderful guidance from above. Whatever you call the good stuff in your life and whatever or whomsoever you credit for it – I wish you lots of it in the upcoming decade. Happy New Year!