My family is not Irish, but what my mother lacks in Irish roots she makes up for in superstitious beliefs. Besides the whole broken-mirror-seven-years-bad-luck thing, I also couldn’t walk under a ladder or open an umbrella indoors.
My Jewish mom, who flips homes as a hobby, buries St. Joseph statues in the front lawn of her listings. She figuratively spits by saying “pooh, pooh” in reaction to something especially evil. She knocks on wood to keep something bad from happening when she thinks she might’ve jinxed herself. She says she gets all of this from her grandmother.
Without fail she says “God bless you” when someone sneezes. But she also believes that when a person sneezes during a conversation, whatever has just been said "is the truth."
And, though superstitions aren’t logical, I've grown up believing that the idea of luck can be comforting—especially when we’re so often reminded that life is fragile and things are beyond our control.
Perhaps that is what family traditions are all about, anyway. They call to mind tender memories of times gone by and quirky great-grandmothers whom we dearly miss. There is nothing silly or superstitious about that.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and the "luck of the Irish," I wanted to share seven of my lucky charms with you.
1. Thomas Jefferson's Impassive Stare
The rarely used $2 bill, which occasionally turns up in birthday cards and souvenir drawers, is my No. 1 lucky charm. Since I turned 16, I’ve kept a crisp $2 bill folded in my wallet under my driver’s license. My mom gave me the 2005 bill and told me to carry it with me always.
2. Penny in the Getty
While tossing a coin into a fountain for good luck is a custom undertaken in many parts of the world, it is most common to watch this practice at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. Unfortunately, I don't live in Rome. I live here in Encino. So I like to carry on the tradition here and throw a penny in the Getty fountain upon every visit.
3. Lucky 7:11
The time 7:11 is considered lucky in my household. I have no idea why, and we don’t even make a wish. We just scream “7:11!” and look at our clocks to note the time. If we catch it in the morning and in the evening, it’s a doubly lucky day. You can't set an alarm clock or timer though; that's cheating.
4. Broken Breastbone
When my Dad carved a turkey or chicken, he’d always leave the dried breastbone for me and my younger sister when we were kids. We would tug on the wishbone, each making a wish. After the bone broke, the person with the bigger piece would have her wish granted.
5. Fallen Eyelashes
A stray eyelash is seen as a wish maker, much like the wishbone. If an eyelash falls on my cheek, I always put it on my finger, make a wish and blow it away.
6. Zen Bamboo
When I first moved out on my own, my mom bought me three stalks of bamboo. She said it was lucky. The vase has moved with me from apartment to apartment, and so far, it's the only plant my black thumb has been able to keep alive!
7. When You Wish Upon a Star
A person lucky enough to see a shooting star is supposed to make a secret wish.
And speaking of secret wishes, my mother always told me that you’re never supposed to tell anyone else what you’ve wished for. But today, I'll make an exception.
I wish Encino Patch readers a happy, healthy St. Patrick's Day. Have fun Thursday, be safe and good luck to you all!