The four-leaf clover is especially known for being a plant responsible for bringing luck to those who encounter it. In addition, it is common for each of the leaves to be assigned a specific meaning. Besides luck, these are hope, faith, and love. The origin of the representation of the clover as an amulet is very old, dating back thousands of years, in Celtic Mythology. Since then, the symbol has been represented in illustrations, engravings, statues, tattoos, and several others. Among the many reasons why the plant has been associated with luck, one of the main ones is its rarity.
Rarity of Four-leaf Clover – The association of this type of clover with luck lies mainly in the difficulty of finding it. This is because the normal for the species in question is to have only three leaves, and the development of four leaves is an anomaly. Clover is included among the plants of the genus Trifolium, which means exactly three leaves in Latin.
However, the truth is that what we understand as leaves are leaflets, which are subdivisions of a leaf. In other words, all clovers have – in theory – only one leaf, divided into three or four leaflets. When four leaflets – popularly called four leaves – develop, there is a rare genetic mutation in the plant. This is why finding a clover in this variant is so rare. It is estimated that there is only one in every 10,000 of the same species.
Legend and mythology – The first people to have contact with the plant were English and Irish people from the ancient Celtic societies. In these groups, the Druids – considered to be philosophers and counselors – believed that a four-leaf clover was a sign of luck and natural powers. According to some accounts of mythology, it was even believed that the anomaly – today understood as genetic mutation – was responsible for the direct influence of fairies.In this way, to find one of these plants would be to be able to carry a sample of supernatural power with you. T
he shape with four leaves, an even number, and the cross-shaped distribution were also reasons that added to the belief. This is because the distribution of the leaves in this version was associated with sacred values, even before Christianity, as well as with wholeness and balance.
Four leaves – Besides the relationship with fairies and Celtic legends, the number four carries important symbolic meanings. Throughout history, it is possible to notice the influence of the numeral in different societies.
- Greece: The mathematician Pythagoras considered 4 a perfect number, directly associated to God.
- Numerology: number 4 is associated to notions such as stability, solidity, and security. In some interpretations, it also indicates organization and rationality.
- Christianity: in the Bible, the number 4 appears in some moments in relation to totality and universality, especially in Revelation – with the four horsemen, for example. In addition, the New Testament has four evangelists and the Christian cross has four ends.
- Nature: in nature it is also possible to find subdivisions into four in some situations, as in the phases of the moon (new, crescent, waning and full), phases of life (childhood, youth, maturity and old age), elements (water, fire, air and earth) and seasons (spring, summer, fall and winter).