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Matt:

How rare is a four-leafed clover? Is there such a thing in real life? Why is it associated with good luck?

-- S.L, P.B.

A four-leafed clover is an occasional mutation growing amid the standard three-leaved variety. Once unusual, but not a rarity. But technology put an end to that. Horticulturists long ago bred clover that produces nothing but four-leafers, cashing in on the assumption that if a little is good, a lot is much better, and you can sell it to people. So the thrill is gone.

The clover-luck nexus goes back to the days of the nature-worshiping cults. One of their ceremonies concluded with a hunt for four-leafed clovers. Since the ritual in question involved throwing people onto fires to honor the gods, I guess it was good luck if you were still around at the end to look for clovers

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