Posted by: briellethefirst | January 6, 2012

Wish Upon A Star…And Other Ways

On New Years Eve I saw a bright, green fireball meteor streak across the sky. Major wish score! Remember wishing on stars when you were a kid? Do you remember the rhyme?: “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.” Then you make your wish. This is for the 1st star you see, but if you see a shooting star you get another chance for a wish.

There are other common ways of wishing. Wishing wells and fountains are popular for exchanging coins for wishes, dating back to prehistory beliefs when people would toss all sorts of things into wells and waterways for (presumably) the same reason. Sometimes they also tied ribbons or rags to branches (usually near special wells or springs) or left little offerings in special places in exchange for a wish to be granted.

You can always light a candle. There are lots of them in most Catholic churches, but you don’t need to be Catholic. Just drop a coin in the offering box (there’s the coin part of wishing again), light the candle and make a wish. Usually this is used for something serious, like keeping someone safe or getting well from a serious illness or injury.

Wishbones are especially popular around Thanksgiving, but can be used anytime a roast chicken or turkey makes one available. Clean off any meat, let it dry, and after the meal one person takes hold of one side and the other takes the other side, they each make a wish, count to 3 and pull. The one holding the biggest piece gets their wish granted. Before you pull you should agree on the method of holding, though, so you each either hold it with thumbs against the pointy-part facing upwards or you each hold the tips only. If one holds one way and one a different way only one will have an advantage.

Blowing things to carry wishes is popular. When you find a full-fluff dandelion you can carefully pluck it, make a wish and blow. Your wish will be carried on the wind, one hopes to whatever Deity will grant it. You can do the same with fallen eyelashes. When you find one has fallen on your cheek, gingerly take it on your finger, make a wish and blow. Of course we all get the chance to wish once a year as we smile while friends and family sing the usual song, then make a wish and blow out the candles. Shh…if you tell it won’t come true!

Some people talk to bees, birds and ladybugs, If a ladybug lands on you say “Ladybug, ladybug fly away home, your house is on fire and your children are home!”. If she flies away you can make a wish. Many old-time civilizations believed birds were messengers of the Gods. Beekeepers and many gardeners in parts of the British Isles will talk to bees when they come upon them in the garden (or elsewhere?), at least to give them news of the most recent family events such as births, Christenings, weddings, deaths…so asking birds and bees to carry wishes to the Powers That Be only makes sense.

There are other wishing customs from all over the world, but these are the most common from my childhood. The nice thing about all this is that it reminds us to keep up our belief in the possible. Yes, the possible, as in all things are…, so if you can imagine it there must be some way for it to be so. Keep believing, keep wishing, keep trying and eventually we can make the world better.



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