The Charm Bracelet History
Charm bracelets have a long history of superstitions. From Ancient Egypt to Victorian England, modern paganism still lives with ancient good luck charms and amulets.
In the sixties and seventies, the charm bracelet became popular, but charm bracelets had actually been around for thousands of years before the popularity boom. Amulets were hung from bracelets, a sort of superstitious collection of usually silver animals, hearts, and other lucky symbols. To most people it was a fad, but even today there are those who believe amulets possess some form of supernatural protective power.
The word amulet is derived from "hamala," an Arabic word meaning "to carry." The hamala also refers to the necklace on which faithful Moslems hang their Korans. However, it is not just an Islamic tradition. Many other cultures have similar practices and beliefs.
The charm bracelet dates back to at least 5000 BC. The Ancient Egyptians adorned their bracelets with the ankh, a life symbol, and the eye of Horus, their sun god. Like many cultures, they believed the amulets gave them some protection from evil. Even early Christians wore a copy of St. John's Gospel or a cross on a necklace, or put a copy of the Lord's Prayer in their shoes.
Christianity brought about a new era of amulets and subsequent charm bracelets. When the old Celtic religion became unpopular in the Dark Ages, the church dubbed usually innocent pagans as witches. With high illiteracy and ignorance, the average person was easily influenced by the will of their more educated Christian leaders.
Pagan rituals were linked to the powers of darkness or witchcraft. Fearful Christians became obsessed with mythical signs of evil: dangerous spirits, goblins, trolls, and imps, to mention a few. Rabbits, which habitually play in the moonlight, soon became misinterpreted as disguised witches. Witches were believed to use rabbits in their spells and potions. As a result, Christians quickly adopted the rabbit's foot as a protective talisman.
The rabbit's foot was usually carried by hand, but smaller versions were attached to the charm bracelet. Even today this macabre charm symbolizes good luck. Tiny silver rabbits are also a popular addition to the modern charm bracelet.
Early Christians adopted other pagan symbols of luck. An iron horseshoe with the opening facing heaven was readily guaranteed to ward off evil. Even teeth, usually animal in origin, were used, a practice dating back many thousands of years. Birthstones, coral, coins, rings, stones, and the well-known St. Christopher were and still are used.
Late Victorian England saw the charm bracelet's popularity increase. Even the short-lived fad of wearing a violin's D string was thought to be lucky. In Italy, the red pepper was also revered.