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“Luck of the Irish” – revealed!

St Patrick’s Day celebrations are all about the Shamrock and 4-leaf clover – the luckiest of Irish charms. Here at Holborn, when it comes to your finances, we prefer to rely on experience and expertise, rather than luck; but let’s face it, there aren’t many of us who would turn down a bona-fide lucky charm!

Many of us have secret (or not so secret) superstitions and good luck charms: from footballers having lucky pants to Conservative MPs touching Margaret Thatcher’s statue before a speech in the House of Commons! When it comes to the luck of the stock market, traders are some of the most superstitious of the lot. One Wall Street trader, Frank “Tony” Cillufo, would order the same lunch every day when he was making money, until the market turned. For two years he ate only two toasted English muffins with jam for lunch: we can only hope the returns were worth it!  

How superstitious are you?

A whopping 1 in 6 Brits refuse to walk under ladders, while 9 million believe that breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad fortune. Research conducted by the Betway group found that 5.8 million Brits admit to being superstitious; in reality, the figure is probably much higher. Would you make a large investment/place a large bet on Friday 13th? Do you find yourself saluting magpies discreetly, hoping that no one is watching? If luck were something that could be bottled, would you rush to fill your trolley?  

Luck or positive thinking?

Richard Wiseman, professor of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, attributes our relationship with superstition and good luck rituals to a kind of neural trickery we play with ourselves. He says “People can create luck and good fortune by changing their outlook on life, focusing on grabbing opportunities and creating positive expectations. It is possible, through neural programming, to think yourself lucky.” However you look at it, most of us would like to think that there is something – an object, person, ritual, perhaps even our own attitude – that brings luck into our lives. But in honour of St Patrick and in the spirit of the day, we thought we’d turn our attention to “the luck of the Irish” and that quintessential lucky charm: the shamrock.  

St Patrick and the Shamrock

Millions of people celebrate St Patrick’s Day across the globe, including millions of Americans claiming Irish descent: some by drinking Guinness, painting themselves green, and donning one of those leprechaun hats with a Shamrock on it. Comedy Irish stereotypes to one side, what does the Shamrock have to do with St Patrick? It is said that St Patrick used the Shamrock to symbolise the Holy Trinity to those he had converted, the leaves representing the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Although this is probably a myth, the Shamrock and St Patrick have become bound together in Irish folklore – the Shamrock a symbol of “the luck of the Irish.”  

Is a Shamrock the same thing as a four-leaf clover?

A four-leaf clover is a genetic mutation of the three-leaf clover – with it actually being the less lucky three-leaf clove that is called a shamrock, or sprig. If you’ve ever spent a sunny afternoon lazing on a patch of clover, you’ve probably discovered for yourself that four-leaf clovers are extremely hard to find: that’s what makes them special, and reputedly lucky.  

What are the odds of finding a four-leaf clover?

About 1 in 10,000. That didn’t stop Edward Martin Sr from Cooper Landing, Alaska, from collecting over 100,000 four-leaf clovers. He currently holds the Guinness world record with a staggering 111,060 four-leaf clovers, which he has been collecting since 1999.      

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