Thursday, June 1, 2023


A good luck buckeye, a rabbit’s foot, a wishbone and a clover…

As we left an RV park in Ohio recently, the park manager accepted our payment. Along with our receipt, he handed my husband a buckeye and said, “Good luck to you! Be safe out there on the road.” My husband, a bit confused, thanked the campground manager and we returned to our rig.

“What’s with the buckeye?” I wondered. I knew that Ohio is known as the “Buckeye State.” Perhaps the round, dark-brown nut with the distinctive light-colored circle was meant as a simple souvenir. Once I began investigating, I discovered that a buckeye is just one of many good luck charms we seldom hear about anymore.

Good luck symbols


Resembling a similar-sized chestnut, a buckeye’s light-brown circle reminded Native Americans of a male deer’s eye (buckeye). They may have appropriated the idea of the buckeye’s “good luck” from German and Dutch immigrants. They believed that headaches, arthritis, and rheumatism could be cured by simply rubbing the buckeye. Keeping one in your pocket meant it was always within reach.

Rabbit’s foot

Photo credit: Farther Along, Wikimedia Commons

The idea of carrying a rabbit’s foot for good luck began thousands of years ago in Western Europe. Back then, a larger relative of the rabbit, a hare’s foot was said to contain magical powers. After a time, a rabbit’s foot was also considered good luck, although I remember my mom telling me, “It wasn’t so lucky for the rabbit!”


Long ago people believed the iron horseshoe to be magical because the horse felt no pain when the shoe was hammered onto its foot. Blacksmiths of that time, who fashioned the horseshoes, were well-respected and known for their strength and stamina. Eventually the horseshoe was regarded as bringing good luck, strength, and well-being to its owner.



Photo credit: Kate Ter Haar, Flickr

Ancient Romans are believed to have begun the idea of magical wishbones. They believed that chicken bones had the power to bring good luck. Today’s common saying “a lucky break” comes from the tradition of breaking the wishbone for good fortune.

I can remember when my sisters and I argued over who would break the wishbone after Sunday dinners ended. There were three of us and only two people are needed for the wishbone tradition. Here’s how it worked when it was my turn. I held one end of the bone, and one of my sisters held the other. Both of us would secretly make a wish. Then we’d pull until the wishbone came apart. The wishbone would grant the wish of the person who held the larger piece.

Four leaf clover

The odds of finding a four-leaf clover is said to be one in 5,076! I say if you find one you are already lucky and really have no need for the clover!

The Celtics are thought to have begun the idea that four-leaf clovers have magical powers. Along with the power of protection, the four-leaf clover was said to enable its owner to see fairies—mischievous little elf-like creatures who often played deadly tricks (like stealing your children). Yikes!

Early religious traditions say that upon leaving the Garden of Eden, Eve picked one four-leaf clover as a souvenir from paradise. And later, the four leaves on the rare clover came to represent faith, hope, love, and God’s grace.

Knock on wood

I remember this saying from my childhood, specifically when my uncle said it. After stating something like, “Crops look especially good this year,” he’d follow up with, “Knock on wood.” Then he’d knock on his own head! I thought it was hysterically funny at the time and I still smile today as I remember it.

This good luck saying and action originated with the ancient Pagan belief that spirits lived inside trees. Knocking on wood summoned help from the good spirits. The noise of knocking was also said to make sure the evil spirits didn’t hear you. Later in time, three knocks were required for good luck.

I’m sure there are many, many other good luck items, actions, or sayings. I’d love to hear about some that you remember from your childhood. Please leave a comment below.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Walt P Sinkhorn
7 months ago

O.M.G. Us Buckeyes are an unusual lot. I was born & raised in Ohio & moved to Florida 40+ years ago. But I have a plethora of superstitions (knock on wood). I still don’t step on cracks or lines when walking on a sidewalk. When I was a kid in the 50’s we all carried a rabbits foot, it was lucky for us but not the rabbit. And yup, that famous Buckeye was usually bulging from my pocket. All those crazy quirks must have worked because I still consider myself pretty lucky.

7 months ago

Difficult to knock on wood in our RV

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.