Find a penny, pick it up, All the day, You’ll have good luck! Give it to a faithful friend, Then your luck will NEVER end!—Unknown
There it was, glinting in the bright morning sunlight, although not as lustrous as it once had been. The blacktop had recently been paved, and from the appearance of its copper face, it appeared as if some of that pavement had covered it as well. I started to walk on past, but like the siren call, I could not ignore it. The face seemed to implore me to bend down. Must. Be. Picked. Up.
Hunched over, the weight of my bag pushing me even lower, I could see the year. 1977, huh? I think I was in 6thgrade or 7thgrade when it was made. I had a total of two albums then: Queen’s, Night at the Operaand Kiss’s, Rock and Roll Over. Additionally, I possessed one eight track tape, Fleetwood Mac’s, Rumors,that played on some portable 8-track player that I had somehow won for selling something, but I don’t recall what the somethingwas; and, I was saving my lunch money change and babysitting money to buy the Saturday Night Feversoundtrack, from the soon-to-be released movie that I was absolutely forbade to see. Bell-bottom jeans were on their way out. While straight-legged jeans and Annie Hall clothes, would soon be all the rage in teen fashion. Why all this should pass through my mind in an instance, I’ll never know.
The words, “In God We Trust,” were fairly crusted over with black; however, the word, “Liberty” was fairly recognizable. Abraham Lincoln’s image was marred in spots by the blacktop as well, but he was still identifiable. I decided to give in to my instincts and pick it up.
I thought about giving it to one of my clients; and now, based upon my research, I wish I would have. However, I decided not to give it away because it seemed so tarnished. (See what I did there?) Still I felt thankful and even a bit giddy after finding it. Perhaps, it was the silly memories it triggered me to recall; maybe it was the bright sunshine that imbued my soul with joy; then again, maybe it was the feeling of luck—luck for me, and luck for the rescued to penny to continue on another day, rather spend the rest of its life doomed as part of a parking lot.
Did I have a good day on that Saturday? Absolutely! Did good fortune follow after finding it? Well, not exactly, but, hey, I am healthy, alive, able to work, and can spend time with my family—I’d say that’s fortune enough.
Still, finding that penny inspired my curiosity. Why do we say, “Find a penny, pick it up, all the day, you’ll have good luck?” Week’s later, relaxed and out of town for the weekend, I took time to indulge my inquisitiveness. What I learned was quite interesting—assuming my sources were reliable.
First of all, there’s more to the saying than I knew. I had never learned the rest of the saying, “Give it to a faithful friend, then your luck will NEVER end!” Who knew? I should have given it away as my gut had told me to do!
However, before that, I also should have paused andthanked God for my blessings. According to several sources, only a face-up penny possesses the words, “In God We Trust,” which is serves as a reminder that we must trust and rely upon God for everything in our life. Therefore, picking up the penny, pausing long enough to offer up a prayer of thanksgiving before giving the penny away, is key to increasing positive fortune in one’s life.
It would appear that the whole, “Find a penny, pick it up,” practice might stem from ancient times. Folklore has it that metals, such as copper, were considered gifts from gods. If one found something metal, such as a copper coin, that object was a gift, sent from the gods, to protect the finder from evil
However, the picking up a penny found in one’s path can also be traced to ancient Ireland and parts of Northern Europe. Long ago, in this area of the world, it was once believed that pennies belonged to fairies, leprechauns and pixies. When one found a penny during this time period, the person was instructed to spit upon the ground where the penny once lay. Then, the coin was to be tossed into nearby foliage or bushes, so the little creatures could have it. It was further believed that when the little creatures witnessed a human doing this, they would provide this person much luck and fortune.
There are other interesting, so-called rules regarding the finding of pennies. For example, a penny found tails up should be turned over and left for another person to find. This promotes good karma to both the person who turned the penny over, and the person who finds the head-up penny. Along this same line of logic, supposedly, if you see a penny tails up, and do not flip it to the heads up side for someone else, bad luck will befall you.
Another nugget oddity that I found was the belief that if you see a person drop a penny, you must return it to them if it lands heads up; otherwise, you’re attempting to steal their luck. If, however, the penny lands head-down, then it is your job to flip it over. Thus, changing your fate, the dropper’s fate, and the ultimate finder’s fate!
A few writers went so far as to offer this sage wisdom: Do not flip a found tails up penny, wait 5 seconds or whatever, and then pick it up. Good fortune does not work that way! These were also the same writers who further believed that when you do find a heads up penny, it must go some place significant, not just in your wallet or pocket. In fact, one source said the found, heads up penny, must be placed on, near, or with some area of your life in which you hope to flourish or increase.
Then, there were these quips about pennies:
“Put a penny wrapped in paper, keep it to avoid your debtors.”
“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue—and a lucky penny in the shoe!”
Finally, I found that some people believe that a penny represents oneness (Get it, one) with God—the unity of the spirit and the body—reminding the finder of their ultimate afterlife. Several of these writers went on to add that, if, however, one finds a dime, it is thought to be sent from a loved one who has passed away letting you know that you are loved and valued.
Regardless of which belief(s) you wish to embrace on finding a coin, may your day, Dear Reader, be filled with good fortune, much luck, and perhaps, a random coin or two. Just remember, I shared this advice with you, so don’t be a miser, and keep it all to yourself!
Hmm . . .maybe I’ll start leaving random, heads-up pennies on the ground for others. After all, I can now fully say that the penny I found gave me the good fortune of added knowledge! Who knows what a penny could provide for someone else?