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Why is a Rabbit's Foot Considered Lucky?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Considering a rabbit's foot lucky is an ancient tradition in much of the world. At least as far back as the seventh century BCE, the rabbit was a talismanic symbol in Africa, and in Celtic Europe, rabbits were considered lucky as well. Thus keeping a part of the rabbit was considered good fortune, and a foot was a handy means by which to benefit from the luck of the rabbit.

Many of the beliefs associated with the luck of a rabbit's foot have to do with the types of religions practiced in regions of Africa, Europe, and North and South America. Religions based on animism, the sense that spirits inhabited living things, attributed power to all kinds of objects that were once living. When spirits were thought to live in animals, plants, rocks, and water, then each thing had its own power.

These traditions were not marred much by the onset of other more prominent religions like Christianity. Even in the strongly Catholic Ireland of the Middle Ages, there were still superstitious beliefs regarding fairies or the Tuatha De Danaan who resided underground. Gradually, as Christianity spread in Ireland, the old Gods of Celtic belief became associated with hell. Rabbits were thought to have special protective powers needed for residing underground. Thus the foot could be protection from evil spirits, and is even considered so today.

Other ancient groups imbued the rabbit's foot with specific forms of luck. To the Chinese, it may be a symbol of prosperity. The known proclivity for rabbits to reproduce quickly and breed often has been noted in numerous cultures past and present. The foot can be carried by women who wish to get pregnant, or who wish to enhance their sexual lives. Sexuality in general is also related to the wish for abundance, fertile crops, and good weather.

It’s sometimes hard to trace the exact superstition associated with certain groups of people that might hold or carry a rabbit's foot. They are thought lucky for gamblers. Actors may believe that they will ensure good performances and rave reviews. Travelers carry them for safe travels, and hunters sometimes wear one as a necklace for good luck in hunting. In these cases, the superstition hinges on wishing for good luck in a variety of situations where the outcome is unsure.

Some traditions of how to collect the foot state that it only lucky when taken from cross-eyed rabbits living in graveyards. On the night of a full moon,the collector must shoot the rabbit with a silver bullet. Further, only the left hind foot is lucky in many traditions.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By Izzy78 — On Aug 19, 2012
@cardsfan27 - You are absolutely correct. I went to a college in the Midwest and the college would give everyone a coin that is considered to be a talisman to give the person good luck in their studies in college.

It may sound strange, but I would see people, that had a lot of school spirit, taking these coins in with them while they take tests.

I always thought these types of talisman's, like a rabbit's foot, were merely spiritual types of things that merely help someone through difficult times.

A rabbit's foot does appear to have been an historically popular talisman, and may even be the original one that has spurned many others throughout the world.

Does anyone know if this is the case and if not which type of talisman was considered the first?

By cardsfan27 — On Aug 19, 2012

A rabbit's foot is no different than any other type of talisman that a person considers to be lucky.

All kinds of people have talismans that they consider to give them good luck, like say a lucky coin, medallion, ring, or even articles of clothing.

Now, a rabbit's foot has more historical origins than most of these talisman's, but the main concept is still the same as people in a nervous or stressful situation usually feel the need to relax and this is usually what a talisman offers the person.

A rabbit's foot is merely a classic example of a talisman and there are many other types of talismans like it, in cultures all throughout the world.

By LisaLou — On Aug 18, 2012

I wonder how many women have carried a rabbit's foot around with them hoping it would help them be fertile? This sounds kind of like a crazy idea, but I am sure there are some people who really believe this works.

As far as a rabbit being fertile, I know how true that is. We bought a couple for our son when he was young, and had more rabbits than we knew what to do with.

By John57 — On Aug 17, 2012

For as long as I can remember I have known that a rabbit's foot was considered good luck. My sister and I had some of these when were growing up.

As a kid I never really stopped to think where this came from. I just remember we had a furry rabbit's foot on a small chain that was supposed to be a good luck charm. We lost interest after awhile, and I am sure they were thrown away with a lot of other things.

I am pretty sure this wasn't an actual rabbit's foot, but someone selling them to kids like me who thought they might bring me some good luck.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia...
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