To Wish is to Hope

The word hope makes me think of wishing.

Wishing is the task of thinking about something that you yearn for.

Wishes are thoughts that arise from numerous occasions. Among these occasions, the most prevalent are:

  • Birthdays
  • New Years/Other holidays
  • Wells
  • Dandelions
  • Eyelashes
  • Shooting stars
  • Wishbones
  • 11:11
  • Lamps + genies?


Cakes are a cultural custom of birthdays and celebrations. Large cakes are made and served to all guests in order to bring about feelings of  togetherness and joy. The habit of wishing after blowing out candles is ancient and its origins are not strictly pinpointed. The usage of candles on cakes is thought to have many possible origins. Some attribute the candles to early Greeks. Ancient Greeks would place candles on cakes to make them glow like the moon and take them to temples. It was also believed that the smoke from the flames carried prayers to the gods. Yet others attribute candles to a custom originated in Germany where candles were placed in the center of a cake to represent the light of life.

In contemporary times wishing on your birthday comes with ritual. Your wish will only come true if you blow out the candles in one breath and as long as you don’t tell your wish to anyone.

Did you ever wonder how to make a wish on your birthday? Here’s a video describing how to do so…

New Years/Other Holidays

  • New Years

—-New Year’s Resolutions

New Years resolutions originated in ancient Babylon and spread to ancient Rome. With the start of the new year on the Roman calendars, resolutions were made with mostly moral concerns, such as to be kind to others. These resolutions embody the wishes of the individual.

Here’s how to stick with your resolutions

  • Other Holidays

   Other holidays, such as religious ones, attribute hoping for change and prayer into their ceremonies. Wishes for the happiness of humanity as well as peace are commonly made during these such holidays.


The belief in wishing over wells originated from the beliefs of the Germanic and Celtic peoples. Both cultures viewed wells and springs as sacred places, believing that water housed deities and that water was placed on Earth as a gift from the gods. Germanic cultures threw the weapons and armor of defeated enemies into the waters as well as coins as tribute to their deities.

The tradition of dropping pennies into wells comes from the belief that tossing coins covered in silver or copper would cause the water to maintain its freshness, thus it was lucky to drop coins in a well. It is estimated that in Europe, where wishing wells are more common, more than four million dollars is thrown into the depths of the wells each year.



How to wish on a dandelion…

The belief behind wishing on a dandelion arises form the belief that the seeds were fairies that would grant you a wish if you set them free.



How to wish on an  eyelash

Wishing on eyelashes began as a result of superstition. People were afraid that if a witch obtained anything personal from an individual it would enable the witch to create a powerful dark magic curse upon that individual. It was believed that if a person noticed a fallen eyelash and wished whilst blowing it away, they would be better protected against possible curses.

Shooting Stars

Shooting stars are an extremely rare find. The origin of wishing on a star is believed to date to the years of  127-151 A.D. There are many theories as tho why wishing upon these stars originated.

Some believe the idea was first proposed by Greek astronomer Ptolemy when he stated that the “gods sometimes out of curiosity and boredom” peer down on the Earth from between spheres and sometimes stars could slip out of the gaps between these spheres. These stars, shooting stars, signified for the ancient Greeks the presence of the gods. It was believed that the gods would be more receptive to wishes made during these times. Some Greeks believed that the stars represented the rising or falling of human souls. Jewish and Christian cultures believed that shooting stars were fallen demons or angels.  Hence wishing on a shooting star was established, and still lives on today, though not entirely for the same reasons.

Some people also believe in wishing upon the first star of the night seen.

How to wish on a star


  Wishing on wishbones, originates from ancient Italy. Ancient Italians believed that if you removed the entrails from a bird, you could read the future in them. The collarbone of the birds would be laid in the sun to dry and it was believed that people seeking knowledge from their gods could make a wish on the bone. Some Etruscans believed that the birds were fortune tellers and would draw circles in the dirt with wedges for letters. They would throw grain on the circle and record the “letters pecked” to find answers to questions asked.


Wishing at 11:11 is purely numerical. Some numerologists believe that it is not pure coincidence that many people glance at clocks at 11:11, they attribute the symmetrical time to synchronicity. This belief in the uniqueness of 11:11 allows for one to conclude special things must happen too then.

How to wish at 11:11

Lamps and Genies

Most everyone knows the story of Aladdin, popularized by Disney, but originally introduced in 1001 Arabian Nights. In the tale Aladdin rubs the lamp and a genie appears granting him three wishes. The word “genie” comes from the Arabic “jinn” or “djinn”, meaning spirit. It was believed that the jinn controlled wish magic. The tale of Aladdin was originally set in China but is Middle Eastern folklore. The tale was admitted into 1001 Arabian Nights in 1710 by French translator Antoine Galland who heard the tale from a Syrian Arab storyteller and scholar named Youhenna Diab “Hanna”.

Sometimes there doesn’t have to be an underlying reason as to why people hope. Their wishes are brought about by imagination, beliefs, brought about by  hope.

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