As the new year approaches, it’s natural to hope for a new era of prosperity, happiness, adequate rainfall and good tomato yields.
Like the double-faced god Janus, who gives his name to the first month of the year, we can reflect on the highlights and lowlights of the last growing season even as we embrace the new crop of garden catalogs now filling our mailboxes. Ever optimistic, the gardener refuses to believe that the roses will be blighted with black spot, the asters consumed by slugs and the corn afflicted by borers — again.
Diligence and care may prevent some mishaps, but what about the role of luck? Only the naive believe that chance and happenstance play no part in our affairs. Fortunately, I have sleuthed out some advice to help you get the year off to a good start.
If you’ve swagged your doorways with evergreens for the holidays, you’re in good shape since green branches over entries drive away witches, demons and misfortune. As you gather ’round the hearth, tend your own blaze all you like, but be wary of poking someone else’s fire — it’s unlucky.
To send riches your way, let the moon shine into your empty purse on New Year’s Eve and eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. At midnight, make some noise to frighten away evil spirits and drink a bottle of whatever, making sure to drain it to the last drop.
It’s good luck to have money in your pockets and wind out of the south on New Year’s Day. Just don’t break anything, lend any money or precious possessions, or remove anything from your home. Do no laundry, or you will be washing your luck down the drain.
In 2019, you might start carrying a lucky acorn to maintain youthfulness and vigor. Giving bunches of flowers is lucky, and giving yellow flowers is really lucky — expect a gift of money. Don’t give white flowers to a sick person, though, since this is an omen of death.
As winter thaws, be alert for the first shy blossoms and note the day of the week on which you discover them. Spotting the first flower of spring on Sunday or Monday predicts good luck. If it happens on Tuesday, big undertakings will be successful; on Wednesday, a wedding is approaching; and on Thursday, look for unexpected luck. Should it occur on Friday, beware — misfortune is at hand.
Don’t bring a single snowdrop or a single violet into the house — make it a bunch, lest you tempt fate. Finding the first daffodil of spring will bring gold and silver in the next 12 months, but if the blossom has its head hanging, expect reversals.
Finding a four-leaf clover is lucky, of course, and you often will meet your true love the same day. Keeping this talisman in your possession will enable you to see and avoid evil spirits. Dreaming of a four-leaf clover foretells a fortuitous marriage.
Planting lilies in the garden will deter witches and ghosts, but don’t damage the blossoms — it’s unlucky. So is bringing white lilies into the house, no matter what the Easter lily industry says. Give hyacinths instead.
Don’t pick marigolds — you will become a heavy drinker. Gazing deeply into the flower first thing in the morning will protect you from fever, though, and dreaming of marigolds often predicts the arrival of great wealth. Picking wild poppies will trigger a thunderstorm and picking a pansy on a fine day will bring on rain — which can be lucky or unlucky, depending on how dry it’s been.
If you can’t remember these specifics — or are unlucky enough to lose this column — focus on general principles. At a yard sale many years ago, I bought a volume with this irresistible title: “How to Attract Good Luck,” published in 1952 by A.H.Z. Carr. In the spirit of the season, I will share its insights with you, dear readers:
One short cut to luck is to approach life with zest, which keeps the mind fresh and resilient. Carr defines a zestful person as one who “may be occasionally angered or disquieted (but) loves life with all of its pains, absurdities and follies.”
Good fortune often comes to us through strangers, so be prudent, but remain open to chance encounters. Uncalculated generosity evokes similar feeling in the hearts of beholders — and every act of true friendship is proof that our luck potential is on the rise. Read a great deal, exposing yourself to the “sparkle and tang” of new ideas.
Finally, be primed for the near occasion of good fortune. Take to heart the words of a pioneer in the philosophy of luck, Mr. William Shakespeare: “If it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all.”
In other words, greet every new day with joy, remaining alert to the lucky chance. And don’t bring daffodils into the house when ducks and hens are laying — it’s unlucky.
Sources: “The 2001 Old Farmer’s Almanac” and “The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Superstitions.”