Why do we wish upon a shooting star? Heavens above! You’d be lucky even to spot one
“When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.” Why, other than the reassurances from Jiminy Cricket, do we believe this? It’s an idea that spans cultures from all over the world. But even thinking of them as stars is wishful thinking – in fact they’re meteors going out in a blaze of glory as they enter Earth’s atmosphere.
In the 2nd century, Greek astronomer Ptolemy interpreted them as a sign the Gods were peering down at Earth – the stars slipped through the gap in the heavenly spheres – and therefore a good time to ask for what you most wish. It’s more likely their hold comes from their rarity, making a spotter feel blessed. Be thankful you only need to make a wish upon spotting.
In Chile, you’re also required to pick up a stone to make your wish, while in the Philippines you have to tie a knot in your hankie before the light disappears. Good luck with that!