Why you wish upon a star: The stories behind the superstitions

Dandelions, wishbones, shooting stars, and candles are just a few ways people make wishes. Many people make wishes on them, because that’s what they were told to do, but how did these superstitions start?

Shooting stars

When someone sees a shooting star they may point and yell, “Look! A shooting star!,” close their eyes, and make a wish on it. According to Wish Upon a Star Travel Blog . The Europeans believed the gods would occasionally peer down, and when they moved the sky, a star would escape and fall down. The Greeks, however, believed that the stars represented falling human souls, and it was lucky to make a wish on them.


Candles have always been a tradition when it comes to birthdays and other special occasions, but there is a reason for them. eHow Food said Greeks baked cakes for Artemis, the god of the moon, where a cake represents a moon (when round) and a candle represents the light of life. The Europeans and especially the Germans were skilled candle makers and put a big candle in the middle of a cake and burned it all day long to ward off evil spirits. When the candle is blown out and a wish is made, the smoke is said to take the wish up to heaven.


Making wishes on dandelions dates back to Celts and the French. Dandelion comes from a French word meaning “lion’s tooth” according to My Flower. Dandelions used to be used for medical purposes to treat infections and diseases. Because they thought this was a magical herb, people began making wishes on them when the dandelions become gray and white. They are also considered lucky if a bride carries them in her bouquet.

Wishing fountains

The Wishing Fountain states that the tradition all started with the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. In 19 B.C., the Roman soldiers were searching for some water source, and legend has it they ended up at the Trevi Fountain, which was not as glorious as it is now. They used that as their water source for 400 years and drinking from the fountain was supposed to give people good fortune. Now, the tradition is said that throwing a coin in the fountain will cause the same thing. This tradition spread to thousands of fountains around the world and is continued today.


Wishbones are usually a Thanksgiving or Christmas tradition where two people pull on each end of the wishbone of a turkey, and the one who gets the bigger half supposedly makes a wish that comes true. The Encyclopedia of Superstition said the origin is not completely known, but it has something to do with the importance of poultry. These animals were thought to have magical powers because roosters crowed when the sun rose, and hens clucked when they had layed eggs. Their magic supposedly spread through their bones. The wishbone or proper name fercula was chosen because it is the symbol of fertility. Wishbones continue to be a tradition even today.

There are more ways of making wishes like 11:11 and eyelashes. Wishes are things people due from the age of five to the age of 100 and continue throughout generations.

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