When You Wish Upon A Star

27 Sep 2018

OSR blog post

Why do we make a wish on a shooting star? Where does this idea come from? Read on to learn more about when you wish upon a star.

In the famous Disney movie Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket sings to Pinocchio, “When You Wish Upon A Star” as a way to comfort him. This song went on to win an Oscar award for Walt Disney. Furthermore, it ranked as number seven in the American Academy of Music all-time top one hundred songs. Shooting stars trek across our skies all year long. Where did this practice of wishing upon stars originate?

Wishing Upon A Star

Legend has it that wishing upon a shooting star makes the wish come true. It is believed to have originated in Europe. The Greek astronomer Ptolemy wrote that the gods cause shooting stars. How?  Occasionally, out of curiosity, even boredom, the gods peer down at the earth from between the spheres. As a result, stars sometimes slip out of this gap, becoming visible as shooting or falling stars. Since the Gods are already looking at us at such a time, they tend to be more receptive to any wishes we make. However, the Greeks may not have been the only believing that the stars come to us through supernatural means.

The Mi’kmaw nation from Nova Scotia has a legend about two sisters taken to heaven by two stars in the sky. One star represented a hawk and the other an Eagle. They soon became sad when they missed their people. When they begged Kluskap, the first human, to return them to Earth, he agreed, with one condition. They were not allowed to look back to heaven. The younger sister disobeyed and turned into a shooting star as she tried to return.

shooting star

Shooting Star Myths

If you spot a fallen star on your right, it means good luck. However, if the shooting star falls on your left side, it would indicate that bad luck may soon follow.  In particular, the first star that shines in the night sky each evening possesses special magic. In England and some other parts of the world, setting your gaze on the first star that appears after dark and making a wish is enough to win your heart’s desire. In other cultures, you must recite a particular nursery rhyme or poem as you silently focus on your wish. This superstition is associated with the “Star Light; Star Bright” nursery rhyme popular among children and parents.

Starlight, star bright,
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may; I wish I might,
Have this wish I wish tonight

If you are broke and need money, superstitions state that if you say the word “money” three times before the star burns out, you’ll soon be on your way out of poverty. By observing the direction that a shooting star travels, sailors can predict which way the winds will blow. This information would come in handy for when instruments do not work. Ancient mariners would find that beneficial to navigating open seas at night time.

So if you have a particular wish, you may try your luck at wishing upon a shooting star.

“When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you.”