I once tried to keep track of every wish I made to see if they would come true or not; childhood me was pretty ambitious. Even though I stick to birthday candles and the rare shooting star these days, there’s still little explanation to why we put so much faith behind random things in our lives. I’ve delved into five of them below to get a little more clarity on all of my wishes throughout the years.
When every number on the face of a digital clock is the same, a lot of people will use the opportunity to make a wish. There’s no real reason, and everyone makes up their own rules (for example, I’ll only wish at 11:11 pm), but there’s a bit of spirituality behind it.
Some take it back to the stars, with astrologers believing that 11:11, and catching it, is a moment when your soul notices an opening between the mortal and immortal worlds. The point of making a wish is that since that “door” is open, your wish is more likely to be heard and granted. Others claim that 11:11 marks a window in your life when you should be asking for guidance from above. This sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo to me, but it’s a nice thought.
We can also use numerology to explain it; the number 11 is considered to represent synchronicity in our lives, so having a wish come true at 11:11 can keep you grounded.
My lashes are pretty long and thick, which is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I don’t have to spend a lot of money on mascara; on the other, a day doesn’t go by when I’m not nearly blinded by a stray lash getting in my eye. Then again, it allows for even more opportunity to make wishes.
These wishes go back to folklore: 19th century English stories claim that fallen eyelashes were placed on the back of your hand, and if -- and only if -- the lash left your hand after you threw it behind your shoulder, any wish made on that lash would undoubtedly come true. There’s also a Cornish schoolgirl version where an eyelash has to get blown off the tip of your nose in order for a wish to come true.
The tradition is also a little more ominous. Legend has it that the devil would try to collect as much hair and eyelashes from a person to gain power over them; by blowing away your loose lashes, you were warding off the devil.
“When you wish upon a star…” right? This practice goes beyond Disney, though. The Greek astronomer Ptolemy reasoned that shooting stars were considered signs from the gods in ancient times, a clue that they were looking down at the rest of us and listening out for wishes.
Coins in fountains
Besides the mythical legend of Lizzie Maguire finding her fake true love after throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain, tossing a penny into a fountain started as a way to thank the gods for providing clean drinking water to European tribes. This is also why fountains are typically found built with statues of gods on or around them -- they were originally shrines. People would toss a coin in and say a prayer, which eventually turned into more general wishes.
A dandelion is a weed, yes, but a useful one! The practice of blowing out the seeds of these little flowers once they’ve lost their yellow petals is plain superstition. The idea was that the dandelion seeds, blown into the wind, would carry your innermost thoughts and dreams to your loved ones. Other stories claimed that if you could blow off every seed with one breath, the person you loved would finally love you back; if any seeds remained, it could have the reverse effect. Unrequited love has been a b*tch for years, apparently.