People carry around a lucky rabbit’s foot for luck... Duh! "Where did this peculiar habit come from?" is perhaps a better question.

The custom of toting around a rabbit’s foot for luck is practiced all over the world, but there are two main reasons why some of us choose to keep one in our pocket these days.

One possible origin comes from Celtic and pre-Celtic times. Folks used to believe that the hind foot of a rabbit had special supernatural properties. Thus, keeping one with you at all times would ensure your good fortune, especially if you took it out and gave it a rub every now and again.

Another origin story comes from hoodoo, which is a special kind of African America magic practiced during the epoch of slavery in the Americas. And no, ‘hoodoo’ is not a misspelling of ‘voodoo,’ although both traditions have roots in African folklore and magic rituals.

In hoodoo, the rabbit’s foot is a substitute for a human bone, which, along with dirt gathered from cemeteries, was used in protection magic. Kind of icky, if you stop to really think about it.

The tradition of keeping a lucky foot in your pocket eventually crossed the racial divide, and now millions of lucky rabbits’ feet are sold in the United States every year. Well, lucky for the owners of these charms, perhaps, but exceptionally unlucky for the little rabbits.

[Jstor]