This is an ancient tradition all over the world. At least since the seventh century BC, the rabbit was a talismans symbol in Africa and even in Celtic Europe, rabbits were considered lucky. So keeping a part of the rabbit was considered a fortune, and a paw was a useful means of taking advantage of the rabbit's fortune.
Many of the beliefs associated with the luck of the rabbit's foot have to do with the types of religions practiced in the regions of Africa, Europe, North and South America. Religions based on animism, the sense that spirits inhabited living beings, attributed power to all types of objects that were once living. When it was thought that spirits lived in animals, plants, rocks and water, then everything had its power.
These traditions were not much ruined by the inception of other more important religions such as Christianity. Even in strongly Catholic Ireland of the Middle Ages, there were still superstitious beliefs about fairies or the Tuatha De Danaan who resided underground. Gradually, as Christianity spread to Ireland, the ancient gods of the Celtic faith were associated with hell. Rabbits were thought to have special protective powers needed to reside underground. So the foot could be a protection from evil spirits, and it is considered so even today.
Other ancient groups have imbued the rabbit's foot with specific forms of luck. For the Chinese it could be a symbol of prosperity. The known propensity of rabbits to reproduce rapidly and reproduce has often been noted in numerous past and present cultures. The foot can be worn by women who wish to become pregnant or who wish to improve their sex life. Sexuality in general is also linked to the desire for abundance, fertile harvests and good weather.
Sometimes it is difficult to trace the exact superstition associated with certain groups of people who may hold or carry a rabbit's foot. They are considered lucky for gamblers. Actors can believe they will guarantee good performances and rave reviews. Travelers take them for safe journeys, and hunters sometimes wear one as a necklace for good luck in the hunt. In these cases, superstition depends on the desire for good luck in a variety of situations where the outcome is uncertain.
Some traditions on how to pick up the foot state that it is lucky only when caught by cross-eyed rabbits that live in cemeteries. On the night of a full moon, the collector must shoot the rabbit with a silver bullet. Also, only the left hind foot is lucky in many traditions.