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What are the Origins of the Superstition of the Four-Leaf Clover?

The four-leaf clover is well known for being a symbol of luck. The question though is, what is the origin of the superstition of this clover as a good-luck symbol? Let’s outline the clover a bit more and then delve into the past to explain how its associated symbols came to be.

Symbolism and the Four-Leaf Clover

The Four-Leaf Clover Definition

The special green clover comes from a plant called White Clover. While some people insist it does exist, it certainly does. They may have doubts because there are photos online of fake ones, and people even try to sell fakes. The real ones are also called Trifolium repens. An easy way to characterize the plants and tell they are real is they have three leaves of the same size and the fourth leaf is a bit smaller than the rest.

There are a few superstitions for the four-leaf clover. For example, it is viewed by many people as a symbol of luck or good fortune. Also, if someone comes across one of the plants, it is seen to mean that person will soon meet his or her soul mate.

So, just how did these superstitions get in place?

The beginnings of the symbolism date back to the Garden of Adam and Eve.

The beginnings of the symbolism date back to the Garden of Adam and Eve.

Legend of the Four-Leaf Clover

The superstitions associated with the plant have existed for many centuries. The ideas can be traced back to the Garden of Eve. The legend holds that Eve carried a four-leaf clover in the Garden. As per the legend, she left the garden with the item, and so it contains a bit of utopia.

In addition, the clover with four leaves was highly prized by early cultures. The Druids, for example, thought it has a magical plant. They believed it brought love to all who came across it and holding the item kept bad luck a long distance away. That was their thinking in Ireland, where they also thought that holding a shamrock or three-leaf clover would keep evil spirits away.

Then, in the Middle Ages, kids thought that if they held four-leaf clovers they could see spirits. They thought, in particular, they would see fairies. And so, the plant was one that people sought out and smiled at when they found them! After all, it was only if you held it that you were fortunate enough to see the mystical beings, according to the folklore.

Reader Poll

Occurrence of the Four Leaves and Superstitions

Part of what has strengthened the superstitions, likely, is that they are not overly common. In fact, the four-leaf clover is so rare that the odds of finding it are only 1 in 10,000! So it certainly is a form of luck when one is found, when looking at those small odds. Talk about unique!

With that being said, it IS easier to find than a five-leaf clover. For a five-leaf version, there is only about 1 in 1,000,000 chance that you will find one. Well then it’s no wonder then that this writer has not been able to find one. Of course, the version with three leaves is more common than five or four. The three-leaf plant is also called a shamrock; it is quite commonly used as a symbol on St. Patrick’s Day.

Luck and Clover

Who wants a little luck?

Who wants a little luck?

Concluding Points

The superstition of the four-leaf clover dates back centuries, right back to Adam and Eve. It’s not easy to find one either, so it certainly would be lucky to hold it. As for finding one’s soul mate by holding the plant, there may be some more research needed on that point, though you’d have to find enough of the green items to even hold the research study! Regardless, the superstitions are interesting and do provide hope for good fortune.

©2014 Christy Birmingham


charlotte Langfield on October 16, 2018:

I bet leads of u r faking that you found one. I found one when I was walking my friends dogs in the woods. my foot brushed it I would have missed it if my friends awesome dad did not spot it. anyway I bet no one will even see this. :/

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 03, 2016:

I remember hunting for them when I was a kid and we would occasionally find them. I never knew that there was a five leafed clover nor that there were white ones. Fun hub to read. Thanks!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on September 02, 2016:

Well, I'm sending you a virtual four leaf clover to have a wonderful Friday! Hope you've been well, friend! Sending hugs and lots o' luck to ya! ;)

Elena from London, UK on March 18, 2015:

I've heard about it but did not know anything about the origin and 4 being a lucky number. This Hub has enlightened me more. I'd love to have a garden full of them. :-)

suzettenaples on March 17, 2015:

I enjoyed reading this on St. Paddy's Day. My niece found a four leaf clover out of an entire field of grass and clover. We were walking home after playing at a playground. As we walked she just suddenly looked down and found a four leaf clover. I showed her how to dry it out and keep it. It was so amazing! The luck of the Irish! She is Irish!

Rolly A Chabot from Alberta Canada on August 07, 2014:

Great article Christy and interesting to read the comments and the sharing of others. I found one years ago while on a canoeing trip in an isolated lake in the Yukon. The afternoon was hot and very muggy, I had plans of making it to the far end of the lake that afternoon. I happened upon a four leaf clover and prided myself with placing it on oh hat. A storm was rolling in and shortly after I was caught up in 6 foot waves. The luck of the story was I survived after swamping the cane and losing half my gear. It was a long cold night trying to rest by the fire with little cover soaked to my hide... I managed to safe my hat anyway... lol

Hugs from Alberta

poetryman6969 on June 28, 2014:

Your funny fact for the day is that some say clover is edible.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 10, 2014:

I had no idea that the origins of the four-leaf clover superstition were so old. You learn something new every day. Thanks for sharing!

Dianna Mendez on March 03, 2014:

This is a fun read! I remember looking for four leaf clovers as a child with my sisters. We tried gluing an extra leaf to one to play a trick on people. Thanks for the history lesson.

Christy Birmingham (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 02, 2014:

Oh yes, Thelma, finding one of the four leaf clovers in Ireland would be amazing! Thanks of stopping by and hope all is well!

Christy Birmingham (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 02, 2014:

Thanks, ChitrangadaSharan - I am glad to have told you about something new for you - and yes 'hope' is a wonderful thing to hold on to! I appreciate the share too :)

Thelma Alberts from Germany on February 27, 2014:

I was looking for the four leaf clover when I was living in Ireland. I have seen a lot of clovers there but not with four leaf. Anyway, I am still lucky even without seeing four leaf clover. Thanks for sharing this information. Happy Friday!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on February 27, 2014:

Sounds Very interesting and I had not heard about this before!

I loved the associated story and belief about the four leaf cover. I wish I find them sometime in future, because there is no harm in having 'Hope'.

Thanks, voted up and shared among HP followers!

Christy Birmingham (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 25, 2014:

I hope the "luck" part comes for you, Ruchira!

Christy Birmingham (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 25, 2014:

Yes, there are fakes being sold online though so watch out. The real thing does exist :)

Christy Birmingham (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 25, 2014:

That sounds like a wonderful memory, Jodah! Yes, the idea of seeing fairies is interesting folklore, isn't it? :)

Ruchira from United States on February 25, 2014:

I actually can't remember, Christy

But will look out for it esp after reading the history :)

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 25, 2014:

I have never found a four leaved clover and almost did not believe there ever was one of four leaves. Very interesting about luck.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on February 24, 2014:

Interesting hub Christie about the origins. I have found three four leaf clovers in my time. As a child I used to lie in the clover (avoiding the bees) and particularly look for them. I can remember getting so excited at finding them and racing inside to show my parents because I had heard they were good luck....didn't know about being able to see spirits or fairies though.

Christy Birmingham (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 24, 2014:

Jackie, great to see you too! Great idea to press them between books to preserve them! Oh wow, I had not heard of a seven leaf one before - thanks for adding that interesting detail here :)

Christy Birmingham (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 24, 2014:

Bill, that's awesome to have that memory! I am so glad the post was educational and left you with a smile :) Thank-you.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on February 24, 2014:

I bet I have a couple dozen in books around my house, I have always been able to find them very easily as all who know me knows. I can't say though that I put any real stock into them or believe they have special powers although I seem to have a special power of seeing them. lol Then too I can see no good luck they have brought me. The colonial lady I am writing about now and left archives of her life in America in the 1700s said she not only found a four and five leaf clover, but a seven leaf one! She was a devote Christian so I believe her.

Great to see you! ^

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 24, 2014:

Well there you go. I knew nothing about that, but I do remember laying in the grass looking for them as a kid, and being so excited when I found one. :)

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