Make a wish – folklore, superstition, magicke


* ‘Make a wish …..’

I bet we’ve all done that with birthday cakes as we blow out the candle. But do you know where that originated? The tradition of candles on cakes goes back to the Greeks.  Cakes were taken to the temple of the goddess Artemis. Decorated with candles, it was thought it made the cake glow like the moon. Smoke carried the prayers up to the gods. Hence the tradition of ‘make a wish’ was birthed.  The first birthday cakes probably originated in the middle ages in Germany when children’s birthdays were celebrated.

* Now here’s one I’ve never heard of. It originated in Shropshire, England in the 19th century. Place a fallen eyelash on the back of the hand and as you blow it off you make a wish . If it gets stuck, the wish does not come true.

* Back in the first century AD Ptolemy believed that shooting stars meant the gods were listening. It was a good time to make a wish. I wonder whether that influenced Walt Disney’s theme song for Pinocchio. However this late 19th century rhyme definitely did. Mothers sang it to their children at bedtime  –

Star light star bright,

The first star I see tonight,

I wish I may, I wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight.

* I can remember as a little kid being really excited when I saw ladybirds. It was even more exciting to catch one, blow on it and make a wish as it flew away. Do you remember the rhyme “Ladybird, ladybird fly away home” ? On a more serious note, ladybirds in medieval times represented the Virgin Mary. She protected the crops from harm. Farmers considered ladybirds good luck as their voracious appetite meant they ate pests that harmed the crops.

* In the mid nineteenth century British children believed that if you make a wish when you cross paths with a white horse it will come true.

* Alectryomancy originated with the Etruscans. So what is it? Wishbones! They loved their chickens back then and used them as walking ouija boards to divine the future. Wishbones were kept as treasured objects and stroked for luck. The Romans adapted it into the version where the bone was broken. This was probably because there weren’t enough chooks to go around for everyone to have their own bone. So two people would make a wish, break the bone, and whoever got the biggest piece got their wish.

* Did you make a wish as you blew on dandelions as a young teenager ? Romance was in the air if all the seeds blew away. I can remember desperately looking for another one to blow on if it didn’t work out! It turns out that there are a whole lot of other myths and folklore around this mystical flower.

* We’ve all heard of the Leprechaun with the pot of gold. But did you know they can also make a wish come true? Actually more than one – three ! And while we’re at it, there’s also the Genie with the Magic Lamp.

* Wishing wells originated from European folklore. Homes for the gods, people would go to the wells to pray and make offerings, asking for their help. From that tradition grew the custom of throwing in coins to make a wish come true.

“Sometimes things become possible if we want them bad enough.”  T.S. Eliot

‘Ask of the Moon

when she is round

Luck with you

shall then abound

What you seek for

shall be found

in sea or sky or

solid ground’

The next full moon is on Oct 16th.  It just happens to be a super moon or blood moon. So it will look huge and probably red.   The Earth, Moon and Sun are all in a line, with the Moon in its nearest approach to Earth which is why it looks so much bigger.  Super moons happen several times a year. Folklore has it that a good time to make a wish or cast a spell or weave some magicke is at the time of the full moon. A super moon super charges it.Will you be making a wish on the  16th ?

©  Raili Tanska

Image  Pixabay


24 thoughts on “Make a wish – folklore, superstition, magicke

  1. Me too, until I saw what ladybirds look like from underneath! ; (

    Had no idea abt cake meaning but trust the Germans to ultimately do them, they’re the makers of all holidays

      1. This is true, they do seem to make them insectesque in the movies. LIkewise with my beloved moths, beautiful but upside down ARGH!

      2. I saw that in Australia / Tasmania some of the LARGEST moths exist and live, and I googled them and I practically tore up the floor running from the computer screen THEY ARE TERRIFYING!

      3. Good grief! Did you ever get a picture? Were they scary? Alive or dead? I might possibly run if I saw one. 😉

      4. It was a long time ago, in the prehistoric times of no mobile phones or digital cameras! I was inside and it came flapping against the window attracted by the light as moths are at night. I actually went outside to have a closer look. I seem to recall catching it to have a closer look. So no, I wasn’t scared ! They are quite spectacular in a mothy, brownish kind of way 🙂

  2. Very fascinating post, Raili. I smiled at this because I love candles and was happy to learn that candle smoke has/had some kind of meaning, “Smoke carried the prayers up to the gods.” 🙂 Btw, whilst on the subject of magic, wishes, etc., Magaly Guerrero is hosting a spellbinding and fun challenge soon, if you are interested in stretching your imagination. 🙂

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