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.