Bats in China
istock/CraigRJD When you think of bats, Halloween, horror movies, and spooky caves may be the first things that pop into your head. But in Chinese culture, these nocturnal winged creatures are far from scary; they’re actually a symbol of happiness and good fortune. In fact, the Chinese characters for “bat” are homonyms for “fortune” or “blessings.” A painting or tapestry with five red bats will give you an extra dose of good luck. Red signifies joy and the five bats represent the “Five Blessings”—health, longevity, love of virtue, prosperity, and a peaceful death—which are paramount in Chinese culture. In face, Chinese mothers used to often sew small bat-shaped buttons made out of jade on their newborn’s caps to bestow a long, healthy life on them. If you can’t find some bat artwork, try stealing these secrets from people who seem naturally prone to good luck.
Acorns in England
istock/yourmap The English oak tree is the national tree of England and epitomizes strength and endurance. It’s also abundant in English folklore and history, from Celtic religious leaders worshipping in oak groves to lovers reciting their wedding vows under its sturdy branches. The tree’s admirable reputation may explain why the Brits called acorns “the fruit of the oak” and carried them in their pockets for good luck and health. In 1699, a devastating shipwreck on the Aldeburgh killed 7 crew members and left 11 survivors; one of the survivors owed his stroke of good luck to the acorns in his pocket. Today, those shipwrecked acorns are preserved in varnish and displayed in a glass-fronted display box (made of, coincidentally, oak timber) at the Aldeburgh Lifeboat Station in Suffolk, England, where the acorn legacy proudly lives on in the hearts of the crew and local community. (Science explains why people believe in superstitions.)