Monday, December 29, 2008

Lucky Charms for the New Year

We've been looking at vintage postcards at the store today, and found several having to do with New Year's. The gnomes of Christmas are still partying like it's 1899, and they've been joined by an odd assortment of good luck charms for the new year. It's a traditional time to wish loved ones well, either through sending a card or exchanging charms on New Year's Eve.

The four-leaf clover is a charm associated with Saint Patrick's Day, but it features on New Year's cards, too. The clover was used in ancient times to tell if a demon was coming by for a visit, and it also could protect people from insanity. Christians find the four-leaf clover lucky because of its visual association with the cross.

Pigs, horseshoes, fly agaric mushrooms, and chimney sweeps are other popular good luck charms for New Year's. The horseshoe is almost as popular a charm as the four-leaf clover -- it's also used in New Year's Eve fortune-telling (more on that in a few days). In Finland, the pig also has some clairvoyance. A girl who asks the family pig whether she will be married in the coming year will know once she gets a grunt ("Yes") or silence ("No") from the porcine prophet.

Chimney sweeps are considered lucky because they used to come door to door on New Year's Day and wish everyone good luck. As for the poisonous red-and-white mushrooms, they're lucky as long as you don't eat them!

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