The Many Faces of Good Luck

Every culture has its tradition of luck.  In America, if you snap off the longer end of the chicken or turkey wish bone, you have good luck.  Finding a coin on the street, face-up, will bring you prosperity and good luck as will finding a four-leaf clover in a field.

In France, stepping in dog excrement brings good luck.  In fact, the word merde when said to someone who is about to take an exam or engage in some challenging activity, means that you are wishing him or her good luck. This is equivalent to our “Break a leg.”

In many African countries, people carry a piece of silver -- a coin or a piece of jewelry-- to bring them good luck.  And when they have troubles, they remove the silver item and hold it in their hand while praying that their problems be resolved.

In China people fill their homes with symbols of good fortune such as bamboo, laughing Buddhas and goldfish.  In fact, the name for goldfish in Chinese sounds like the word for “surplus” which evokes the notion of prosperity.  As an added benefit, because goldfish often swim in pairs and can live for many years, goldfish also symbolize fidelity and longevity.

In Russia, seeing a funeral procession represents good luck, unless, of course, you cross it!

In Spain, at the beginning of the new year you eat twelve grapes, one at a time, to bring good fortune for each subsequent month.

As a child, on the last day of the year my mother would serve our family a meal of country ham along with a dish of round items such as black eyed-peas or lentils, following an Italian tradition.  Italians eat lentils at New Year as they resemble Roman coins representing prosperity.  Being an Italo-American, my own family dinner this December 31st consisted of caviar served on rounded blinis enjoyed with Champagne flowing with tiny, effervescent bubbles.  This was followed by homemade, split pea soup with hearty chunks of Polish ham accompanied by sweet potato biscuits.  I did, however, fall short along the “round” theme by serving a triangle of red fruit pie for dessert! 

Let's see what 2018 holds in store for our respective families. May TarteTatinTales wish you much good health, luck, and prosperity plus an equal measure of time to enjoy them all.