The old Frampton Plantation in Yemassee, SC has a fountain/wishing well and when I visit I can’t resist to throw a coin into it. While I’m there, if a child visits I always give them a coin to toss into the water. I love to see a smile and expression full of hope and anticipation grow on their faces as they make a wish.
The tradition of the wishing well has its beginnings in European folk history. Of course in years past underground streams were important sources of clear, fresh water. The early Celts and Germanic people considered springs or streams to have healing and rejuvenating properties, guarded by spirits who may or may not be friendly.
The tradition of dropping coins in ponds and fountains began when people placed the coins as gifts for the deity to show appreciation.
According to belief, any wish spoken over the source of water would come true. A person could make a wish or ask for a blessing from the spirit(s) of the well. People threw silver or copper coins into the well or stream as thanks to the spirits, for good luck or for helpful magic.
Tossing a coin into a wishing well has added benefits. Copper and silver are biocides, meaning that they neutralize harmful bacteria in the water, including those that cause the "rotten-egg" or sulfur smell. Silver and copper metal in coins helps keep the water sweet.
Some people believe that the guardians or dwellers of the well would grant them their wish if they paid a price. After uttering the wish, one would generally drop a coin in the well. That wish would then be granted by the guardian or dweller, based upon how the coin would land at the bottom of the well. If the coin landed heads up, the guardian of the well would grant the wish, but the wish of a tails up coin would be ignored. It was thus potentially lucky to throw coins in the well, but it depended on how they landed.
No matter what age we all love to stop and throw a coin into a wishing well. Whether it is only superstition or maybe a real folklore, I will continue to make my wish. However, now I will have to take a few minutes to watch which way the coin lands.
May all your wishes come true.