Domovik is a spirit which many people in Russia believe inhabits their home. It is commonly regarded as the ghost of the family’s ancestor and is perceived as one who provides protection and brings good luck. He is always referred to as "Grandfather" or just "He" and is characterized by a bearded old man. People consider it bad luck to give a domovik a proper name.
The spirit resides in the kitchen, behind the stove. When a family moves into a new house, they will first move fire from the old stove in order to make the domovik feel welcome in his new surroundings. Besides blessing the family with good luck, the domovik will also help out with household chores. Although he is generally an amiable spirit, he can have quite a temper. When he becomes displeased, he is known for making disturbing noises and even rearranging furniture at times. Some domoviks are known to have such nasty tempers that some have displayed their extreme displeasure by setting fire to the house.
In New England, many professional fishermen will follow a customary routine before leaving port in the morning. They will insert a coin into a cork and set if afloat as offering, hoping that this will help them secure a good catch at sea. In other parts of America, fishermen make it a point to return the first fish they catch back to the sea in order for their luck to continue. Every fish counts in the South. Therefore, the first fish is hung from a tree. Some fishermen will spit on the bait in the hope to get lucky. Most consider it unlucky to reveal the number of fish they have caught if someone asks them for the number of fish caught. Many also believe that if you change poles during a day of fishing, bad luck will follow.
Horses play an important role in the advancement of civilizations. Perhaps because of this role, horses have been considered a symbol of luck in almost all civilizations known to the world. Figurines of horses or the horse head have been used as charms and amulets to assist the wearer in rising to greater heights of achievement and happiness. Today in the east of Europe, people still believe that if you meet a pinto horse face-to-face, a wish of yours will be fulfilled. However, these people also hold the belief that if you have eye contact with a horse that is all white, bad luck will befall unless you spit three times over your left shoulder immediately.
Animal horns are similar to crescents and charms in the form of animal horns are believed to have the same power to offer protection against the evil eye. Horns are considered one of the top most effective bringers of good luck because of this special power. Many cultures all over of the world believe in the horn’s powers to bring good fortune and it is one of the most ancient objects to exist in the world of luck.
Charms in the shape of human hands symbolize good luck in just about every Mediterranean country. In Muslim countries, the hand is created with the thumb and fingers outstretched in order to honor Fatima, prophet Mohammed’s favorite daughter. Only three women were considered worthy of entering heaven and Fatima was one of them. The prophet is represented by the thumb, while Fatima is represented by the first finger. The middle finger represents her husband, and the remaining two are symbolic of her sons. Lucky amulets in the shape of a fist with the thumb tucked under the fingers were worn by the ancient Etruscans and Greeks. Other charms showing the extended index finger were believed to be able to provide protection against the evil eye.
Sometimes people believe that a simple hand gesture has the ability to bring good luck or help to fend off bad luck. In most Christian churches, ministers bless worshipers with the age-old sign of the benediction, whereby the minister’s first and second fingers outstretched and the rest of the fingers closed over the palm. In many countries, people use the hand gesture known as the "devil’s horn" to thwart the evil eye. This is especially so in Italy, where people clench their fists while leaving the index and little fingers outstretched to symbolize the "devil’s horn".
Fish have been believed to be powerful producers of good luck since the ancient days when early Egyptians used gold and silver to create figurines of fish to bring luck to lovers. This belief was followed by the Romans who considered fish a symbol of luck in marriage and courtship. In countries like Japan, China and other Far Eastern countries, fish charms are believed to be able to bring good luck, riches and happiness to their owners. Fish was adopted as a representation of courage and loyalty to God by the early Christians.
It is very common for people who pass by a fountain or a wishing well to toss a coin into the water for good luck. This tradition can be traced back to the period of the ancient Greeks and possibly even further into the past. The ancient Greeks believed that tossing coins into their wells would please the gods who stayed in them and prevent the wells from drying up. It is also a common belief that the gods of the sea were capable of wrecking havoc once they were offended. Coins were therefore thrown their way once in a while as a form of tribute to keep the gods happy. Throwing coins into fountains were just as acceptable to the gods as throwing coins into the sea itself. This was also more convenient for the people. In countries all over the world, there are people who observe the custom of looking for their own reflection in the water and then making a wish after throwing a coin into it as they believe that doing so will make their wishes come true. However, bear in mind that in Rome, their sea gods will not accept anything less than three coins.
People also believe that it is considered lucky to carry a coin with your birth date. Some say that luck will follow if you find a coin heads-up, and that good fortune will come if you have a coin minted in a leap year. You will be most lucky if you chance upon coins that are bent or those with holes in them, especially if they are part of the change that turns up after purchasing something. You are able to amplify the luck of such coins if you carry them in a left-hand pocket or wear them around the neck.
There are literally hundreds of ways in which coins can bring luck. By keeping a jar of pennies in the kitchen, good luck will fall unto you. Each day, the first coin you receive should be placed in an empty pocket so that more will be attracted to you. If you get a new coat, jacket, handbag or wallet, putting a coin in it will bring good luck. Good luck will follow you all week long if you get pennies as change on a Monday.
A crusader in the tenth century named Sir Simon Lockhart returned to his home in Scotland from the Holy Land with a blood-red stone attached to a silver coin. It was believed to be able to provide a cure to rabies and ailments in cattle. Known as the Lee Penny, it was once used to stop a plague in Newcastle when the people put up a bond which was nearly as valuable as the city’s whole treasury to bring the plague down. Five hundred years later, the Lee Penny was used to cure diseased cattle by the descendant of Sir James Lockhart, who had gained inheritance of the Lee Penny. However, he was arrested on charges of witchcraft. He was acquitted when the court was told that he did it "without using any words, such as charmers and sorcerers do." With that, he was warned to be more cautious in the future. He then hid the Lee Penny, and never used its power again.
Children have probably been told that if they are naughty, they will find lumps of coal instead of the usual goodies in their Christmas stockings when Christmas arrives. On the other hand, finding a piece of coal on the street is considered a sign of good luck in some countries. It is also a good sign if a friend gives you a lump of coal. In the north of England, people practice the custom of piling their doorsteps with little lumps of coal on New Year’s Eve. Each person who visits the house on this day will retrieve one piece of coal and bring it into the house so as to bring good fortune to the household.
Traditions of luck related to sewing dated back to the Middle Ages. Until today, they are followed by tailors, seamstresses and women who sew clothes for their family members. It is an age old belief that dropping a needle by accident bodes good fortune. However, you are not so lucky if you drop a pair of scissors, as it is believed that this event is an ominous sign, unless you remember to step on them before retrieving them from the floor. Leaving a pair of scissors open on the table, thus forming a cross is also considered bad luck.
There are also other beliefs linked to sewing. For example, those who start work on a piece of clothing on Friday need to finish their task by sunset, failing means misfortune will befall them. Likewise, it is considered bad luck to sew on Sundays.
When or by whom candles were invented in still a mystery. However, there is proof that they were used by people in both Egypt and Crete as early as 3000 B.C. It is believed that candles were used to scare away evil spirits during that time.
The ancient Hebrews believed that candles could fend off evil forces from those who were dying. These candles would be kept lighted a week after the death of a person. In Shiva, a Jewish ritual, this custom is still practiced. A week after the demise of a family member, those in the family will sequester for a week. To keep evil influences away from the dead and well as those alive, another similar custom is practiced in Ireland. A dozen candles will be positioned around the coffin in a circle. Sometimes, three candles will be burned at Irish wakes and the candle wicks will be kept as a treatment for burn injuries.
The Irish regard the burning of three candles simultaneously in a room as bad luck because people usually associate the burning of three candles to the demise of a person. In the theatre, the same belief holds true. Actors and others consider three candles as an ominous sign.
In Scotland, candles are burned for good luck when people are seriously ill or dying. It is believed that candles obtained from someone who is considered as unlucky, such as a witch, will bring good fortune.
In the Appalachians, an unsteady candle flame is viewed as an ill omen. Likewise, the Scotch-Irish consider the burning of a candle in a vacant room bad luck. In Britain, people predict impending bad luck by observing how the candle wax drips. People believe that it is an ominous sign if the wax drips around the candle instead of straight down. In Germany, it is considered a sign of bad luck if one candle wick splits into two and continues to burn with two flames. In neighboring Austria, people are of the opposite view that such an occurrence should be regarded as a signal that good luck will be approaching in the mail soon.
In Shakespeare’s King Richard the Third, the Ghost of Buckingham goes into a room illuminated with blue candlelight, demonstrating an old English saying that a candle lighted by a blue flame spells trouble. Fret not, as one can ward off this bad luck by using running water to snuff out the candle flame.
In the seventeenth century, people believed that if the candle flame of a consecrated candle was reflected in a pirate’s eye, he would have no choice but to divulge the location of buried treasure.