“ Tell me all you wishes,
I’m here to make them true”
Shakira- Good stuff
Christmas is just over! 😦 But luckily holidays are not! 😉
Have you ever asked yourselves which images come to your mind when you think of Christmas? If you wrote on a white sheet the words and ideas that you associate with Christmas, what would you write? Personally, Christmas makes me think of a bright, calm and joyful atmosphere and I associate this holy festival, more than the others, with the ideas of family, friendship and hope.. but I also think of Santa Clause and of the thousands of children all over the world that write their letters to him, where they express their feelings and.. wishes! And I’ve paid attention exactly to this last word. Surfing the net, I’ve discovered that, especially in the past, there were many superstitions about how to make wishes come true and I’ve also discovered the existence of “wishing wells”, wells typical of the European folklore; it was believed that every wish expressed over them would come true; this idea derived from the conception that ancient populations had about water: water, that in some cases was a very rare source, was considered to be” the house of deities” or at least, one of their precious gifts for humans. Water in fact, is necessary for life (do you know the saying “where there’s water, there’s life”?? 🙂 ), and it was thought to have curative powers for health; this explains why springs and wells were considered holy places , where people very often meet to drink, wash themselves or simply to wish over them.
Germans considered wells and pools of waters as sacred places: one of their customs, in fact, was to throw the weapons of the defeated enemies into these pools, as gifts for their deities.
However, people believed that the guardians of the wells would make the wish come true only paying a price, so after uttering the wish, they used to drop coins in it, to show their gratitude to the deity housed in that well; according to some beliefs, the wish shouldn’t be said to anyone until it came true, because the faith between the wisher and the deity would be broken and followed by bad luck and misfortunes.
This tradition of giving something to the deity in exchange for the fulfilment of a wish is also mentioned in the myth of “Mìmir well”, also called “The well of wisdom”; the well, in fact, took its name from Mìmir, the Nordic God of Wisdom, and it gave omniscience in exchange for the sacrifice of something dear to the person who asked for it; according to this myth, Odin sacrificed his right eye.
But where are these holy wells mainly set? As they belong to the European folklore, they are all over Europe, especially in Scotland, that counts about six thousand holy wells!!!
A famous one, the “Upwey Wishing Well” is in the north of Weymouth, in England, while in Italy, the best example is given by the wonderful Fountain of Trevi, in Rome.
By the way, today we can find these wells everywhere, even out of the Europe, like the one built in Los Angeles Chinatown; they’re a great attraction for tourists, so they’re often employed to raise funds; sometimes they’re also mentioned in popular culture, like in the classic cartoon by Walt Disney “ Snow White and the 7 dwarfs” (watch the video 🙂 )
Have you ever seen a wishing well with your own eyes? What’s your opinion about these buildings? Let us know! 🙂