Why are horseshoes given for good luck?
Horseshoes have long been associated with bringing good luck. But where did this tradition come from?
It’s an age-old tradition that dates back over a thousand years. Legend has it, that in the 10th century, the devil visited St Dunstan at his forge, demanding to have a shoe fitted to his cloven hoof. St Dunstan fitted a red hot horseshoe to the devils hoof with iron nails. This caused the devil great pain and he begged St Dunstan to remove the horseshoe.
St Dunstan agreed to remove it, but only on the condition that the devil respected the horseshoe and never entered a property that had a horseshoe hanging at the door. The devil agreed, and so the tradition of the horseshoe being a symbol of good luck began.
As the centuries passed, other factors have contributed to the horseshoe being regarded as a good luck charm.
Blacksmiths, who forge horseshoes, were once regarded as a ‘lucky trade’, similar to chimney sweeps. And the iron they used to make the horseshoes was considered a magical metal that could drive away evil, as it could withstand fire.
In addition to this, horseshoes traditionally had 7 nail holes and the number 7 has long been regarded as a lucky number.
During the Middle Ages, when the fear of witchcraft was at its height, it was believed that witches were afraid of horses and their iron shoes. Because of this people would hang them around their properties to ward them off.
Opinion is often split on which way to hang a horseshoe. Some believe a horseshoe should be hung with its ends up, in a ‘U’ shape, so as to collect and keep any passing good luck.
Others believe that a horseshoe should be hung with its ends pointing down, so to shower those who pass beneath with good luck. However, both ways are seen to bring good luck!