USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘clover’
Childhood
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Clovers

My informant grew up in a town outside of Springfield, Ohio, in a relatively small community.  According to her, there wasn’t much to go out and do, so one of the things she loved to do was pick clovers and knock them into a necklace similar to a Hawaiian lei.  Some of her other friends would also make these necklaces with her.  Also she and her friends use to take these clovers and make them into a sort of potion for the fairies, and in exchange for this potion, they believed that the fairies would grant them three wishes.  My informant says she and her friends used to wish for stuff like having the longest hair of anyone they knew, but later in life they started making their first wish to be for a hundred extra wishes, which made the wishing get out of hand.

While I never made potions for fairies, there were certainly times in my life, especially after watching the movie Aladdin, where the topic of conversation between me and my peers turned into “if you had three wishes, what would they be?”  And almost everyone’s first wish was for a hundred extra wishes, or a million extra wishes, or infinite wishes, or something.  Usually we said stuff like that wasn’t allowed.  We certainly weren’t the wish police or the wish distribution bureau, so we didn’t care about fairness per se, but the point of the game was to see what kinds of things people wanted, so limiting someone to thee wishes was in the interests of a fair personality test.

Folk Beliefs

Four leaf clovers are good luck

The classic belief about four leaf clovers is that they bring good luck. My informant doesn’t remember where he heard it except that it seemed to be common knowledge from an early age. He never believed it, but when he was fifteen, he found three in one day, later framing them to remember it. The next day, though, he won a martial arts tournament, beating a few people he consider to be more skilled than he was. After that, he told me he always kind of believed that four leaf clovers could bring good luck, even if there was no physical reason they should.

I’ve heard that Eve was said to have taken a four leaf clover with her after she was exiled from the Garden of Eden. That’s said to be a reason they bring luck. I’ve also heard that the four leaves represent faith, hope, and love, and luck. The best reason I can think of for why people associate them with luck is simply their rarity. I’ve been told they’re only supposed to occur once for every ten thousand clovers. Humans often attribute some kind of larger significant to events just because they’re rarer, so it makes sense that we think four leaf clovers are lucky. It is a way of trying to find order in a chaotic world basically. There are billions of people in the world and most of those people will travel to many different places over the course of their lives, lives which last many years. So it makes sense that some people will run into four leaf clovers at some point, but humans still think it’s a very special thing to find one. Therefore, we say they bring good luck.

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