Horseshoes can be seen nailed over doors and on buildings and people often have imitation horseshoes on charm bracelets, necklaces, wedding cakes etc. They believe that they protect us and bring good luck!
There are several theories about the origin of this belief!
Nailing a hot shoe to a horses foot causes no pain - this was thought to be magic in centuries past when the structure of a horses foot was not understood.
The shoe was often nailed on with 7 nails, a lucky number.
Horseshoes are made of iron - believed to be a magical substance which keeps the Devil away. From very early times iron was thought to repel evil spirits!
The story of a blacksmith called Dunstan may also be the origin of the belief. The story is that the Devil requested his horse be shod, but Dunstan (recognising him as the Devil) put the shoes on the Devil's feet instead and chained him. Dunstan said he would only release the Devil if he promised to never enter a place where a horseshoe was hung over the door. Dunstan later became the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In the middle ages it was believed that witches were afraid of horses and horseshoes. As the horseshoes were made of iron which can withstand fire it was also thought that they could ward off evil spirits. Therefore, people believed that a witch would not enter a home with a horseshoe over the door. Horseshoes were also nailed to the coffins of suspected witches so that they could not return to life.
The shape of the shoe when fixed with the arms pointing upwards makes it look like a pair of horns - the use of horns to protect buildings has been known for thousands of years. These horns were symbols of the ancient Horned God - a pagan god whom Christians later converted to the Devil.
Some people believe that the shoe should be hung with the arms pointing upward so that it can catch and hold the luck. Others believe that the arms should point down so that luck will pour onto those passing underneath. Sailors sometimes nail a shoe to their masts to help them avoid storms.
Which way up do you hang your horseshoe?
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