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Gingerbread World Blog - German Good Luck Symbols

Luck of the Germans! Germany's Obsession with Good Luck

We all know about the "Luck of the Irish" and the four leafed clover, leprechauns and pots of gold. But do you know about the "Luck of the Germans"?

Here's a run through of some of the Glücksbringer (Good Luck symbols) that are part of German lore.
Gingerbread World Blog - Traditional German Good Luck Symbols
A luck charm is anything that people believe will bring happiness, prosperity, health and a long life and will keep evil away. It could be construed as something totally superstitious but I think, in 2019, it is more just a beloved object or a thoughtful and somewhat humorous gift or a nostalgic keepsake. Nothing too foreboding!!

Here's a few of my favorite German lucky charms:

The Good Luck Pig or Glücksschwein

Gingerbread World Blog - Traditional German Good Luck Symbols or Glücksbringer - The Good Luck Marzipan Pig“Schwein gehabt” (meaning “got lucky there!” – though literally: “got pig!”) is a supposedly often used expression in Germany. The beast in question is associated with good luck in German and is now often gifted in the form of a marzipan pig. 
For centuries, pigs have been symbols representing wealth or prosperity. In old Nordic mythology, the wild boar was considered sacred, a pet of the gods and symbol of fertility. For ancient Greek, Roman and later cultures, owning  pigs meant privilege and affluence. Of all the good luck symbols listed this is the weirdest to me - but if it comes in the form of a Marzipan treat I will totally buy into the concept! After years of our customers asking for it, Gingerbread World is finally offering the Niederegger Marzipan Pig as well as other beautiful and tasty gifts to say "Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr".

The Ladybug or Marienkäfer

Gingerbread World Inge-Glas Canada - Handcrafted Glass Christmas OrnamentsThe ladybug is a Christian symbol of luck. In German it's called Marienkäfer  suggesting the little red bug with black spots is associated with the Virgin Mary. Popular legend has it she sent the bug down to earth as a gift – especially for farmers, seeing as ladybugs eat up aphids and other crop-chomping pests. So when they saw ladybugs crawling up and down the cornstalks or whizzing from one tree to another in the orchard, they were more likely to have a bountiful harvest. And a bumper crop was a very fortunate occurrence indeed. Ladybugs can have up to seven black spots on their red wings and in German-speaking countries (well, many western countries) the number 7 is considered lucky. To this day many Germans believe you’re in luck when a ladybug lands on you! And I believe that if that Ladybug is made out of German chocolate then you are extra lucky! Check out the Swarovski crystal-bejeweled Ladybug Christmas Tree Ornament and the tiny little Ladybug on the Lucky Four Leaf Clover Ornament.

Chimney Sweeps or Kaminkehrer

Gingerbread World Blog - Traditional German Good Luck Symbols or Glücksbringer - The Lucky Chimney Sweep SmokerThe chimney sweep brings good luck in Germany for rather pragmatic reasons: when the chimney was stopped up, the man in black had to be called in to clear the flue so you could finally cook your food again. A clean sweep also reduced the risk of setting the house on fire. In the olden days, fees for a sweep's services were collected at the start of each new year so they were often the first well wishers and thus “good luck bringers”. So to this day we consider it good luck to even see a chimney sweep. And you’re even luckier if you get to turn one of the silver buttons on his black uniform – which is why plenty of German chimney sweeps are missing buttons that have got torn off in the process. Last Christmas Gingerbread World introduced an extremely cute lucky Chimney Sweep Smoker to our Christmas Collections and they were snapped up by customers eager to give Good Luck as a gift - so we added more here, here and here!

Toadstools or Fliegenpilze

Gingerbread World Blog - Traditional German Good Luck Symbols or Glücksbringer - The Lucky MushroomToadstools are actually small, poisonous mushrooms. It's really just their happy appearance of bright red cap with white polka dots and that they sprout and proliferate in forests and woods. In old German fairy tales, toads sitting on mushrooms are pictured catching flies drawn to the toadstool, hence the name. Along with the nasty effects of ingesting a toadstool there is auditory and visual distortions, mood changes, euphoria and relaxation; effects which may have led to the toadstool's reputation as "magical". A fortunate person is a “Glückspilz” - a Lucky Mushroom. The uber cute Lucky Charm glass clip-on ornament would definitely pass along good luck to a recipient! 

The Lucky Four Leaf Clover makes its appearance as well! The glass ornament with the four leaf clover and ladybug and the exquisite Wendt & Kühn "Blumenkinder" miniature of the little girl with the marguerite daisy crown holding a four leaf clover.

May the Luck of the Germans be with you!

Owner @ Gingerbread World

This Blog was written with help from the following sources:
Dead Lucky! What Germans Consider Lucky Charms
Glücksbringer: Good Luck Symbols in Gemany
Wikipedia - Lucky Charm

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