April 29th is World Wish Day. But how did this day come about and why do people make wishes?
World Wish Day was created following the wish of a seven year old Leukaemia sufferer, Chris Greicius, who on 29th April 1980, became a police officer for one day, as this was his one wish. As more and more people heard about this and thought that the granting of wishes for sick children was a good idea, the Make-A-Wish Foundation was founded, which in turn led to World Wish Day which is held on the anniversary of the day that the police granted Chris’ wish.
Many countries around the world celebrate this day by making dreams come true for sick children. Around 30,000 wishes are granted each year. If you want to get involved you can spread the word about this great cause by using the hashtag #worldwishday on social media, or of course granting a wish to a child that you know.
Where did the tradition of making a wish come from?
For centuries there has been the tradition of making a wish. The ancient Greeks used to throw coins into their wells, with the wish to keep the wells from running dry.
This tradition is still followed at wishing wells and fountains around the world, most notably the Trevi fountain in Rome, where people traditionally throw three coins into the fountain (a movie was made about it and Frank Sinatra even made a song about it!) Though this is for a more romantic reason – the first coin is that you will return to Rome, the second coin to ensure a new romance, and third will ensure marriage.
A wish is a hope or desire for something. Wishes are often used in fiction as plot devices, and are often used as a template for a morality tale. ‘Be careful what you wish for’ is often said when the granting of the wish can lead to unfortunate results. It is important for the wish to be specific and not at the expense of others.
Even the legendary tale of Aladdin, which originates in the Arabian Nights collection of stories involves the owner of the lamp being granted three wishes when the owner rubs the lamp and the genie pops out. These stories are believed to be as old as 1,500 years old, and include other Arabian themed tales like ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’, ‘The Thief of Baghdad’ and ‘The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor’.
This story has been told many times, with Disney adaptations, and it even influenced the classic 1960’s sitcom ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ where the ‘Jeannie’ of the lamp was a 2000 year old genie who eventually falls in love with her master.
Try these wishing traditions
Some of these are very popular and you will do them automatically, but some are a little more diverse:
- Make a wish before you blow out the candles on your birthday cake
- Make a wish on the first star you see a night (‘when you wish upon a star’)
- Make a wish with another person on a wishbone (from a chicken). Both hold an end of the bone and the person with the largest piece of bone’s wish will come true
- Hold your breath and make a wish while crossing a short straight bridge
- Make a wish on the first robin you see in spring
- Put a watermelon seed on your forehead and make a wish before it falls off