General Question

flyawayxxballoon's avatar

When/how did the act of tossing coins in wishing wells and fountains to make a wish come true begin?

Asked by flyawayxxballoon (1352points) August 22nd, 2008

I’ve always wondered this…how did someone come up with this interesting and strange tradition, and why did so many people start doing this?

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6 Answers

scamp's avatar

I found this on wikipedia. You might find it interesting.
A wishing well is a term from European folklore to describe wells where it was thought that any spoken wish would be granted. The idea that a wish would be granted came from the idea that water housed deities or had been placed there as a gift from the gods, since water was a source of life and often a scarce commodity.

The Germanic and Celtic peoples considered springs and wells sacred places.[1] Sometimes the places were marked with wooden statues possibly of the god associated with the pool. Germanic peoples were known to throw the armour and weapons of defeated enemies into bogs and other pools of water as offerings to their gods.[2] [3]

NecroKing's avatar

Actually, well Wrestle is the expert but I don’t know where he is, but anyhow, I Know that the story goes, well in Romania, I heard that people always believed in spirits in the wells and that the well is a connection from our World to the spirit, people throw coins in the wells as a gift in exchange for a wish.

scamp's avatar

Got a link to back that necro? I’d be interested in reading more about this. Great question fly!

flyawayxxballoon's avatar

@Scamp; Thanks! It seems that there are so many different versions of the story of how this got started…I wonder if there was actually a first place or person to do this? And even if there is, I wonder how the theories of the connection to spirits, exchanging a coin for a wish, etc. were created. Maybe ancient Greece or Rome? It sounds like their belief in spirits/people (specifically women) [nymphs] within the elements would make sense in this case. For example, naiads/ephydriads, nymphs of water.

NecroKing's avatar

No I don’t Scamp and I apologize, but it is what we know back in my Homeland of Romania. and originally it came from the Odyssey.

marinelife's avatar

At least to Roman times: “In North Cumberland County, located in the northeastern tip of England, there‚Äôs a famous well that was used to make offerings to the Roman and Celtic goddess Coventina. British archeologist, John Clayton excavated the well in 1876. More than 13,000 coins were found, mostly low denomination, suggesting offerings or votives to the goddess.”


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