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The fascinating culture of Wishing Trees

Your hopes and dreams, whatever they may be. Entrust them to the Wishing Tree …

A Wishing Tree is an individual tree that has been chosen specifically and is used as an object of wishes and offerings. Such trees are identified as possessing a special religious or spiritual value. 

People will come to these trees and make offerings to have a wish granted, or a prayer heard. Generally, people make offerings by hanging trinkets, colourful ribbons and fabrics, or writing wishes on small pieces of paper and hanging them from the tree.

Wishing Trees are found in many different cultures around the world and although the specific rituals differ from one country to the next, what all Wishing Trees have in common is that of being places where people reconnect with what truly matters to them.

Wishing Trees in Turkey

Wishing Trees (Dilek Ağacı) have a long history in Turkish folklore and in rural areas in Turkey people still visit “wishing trees” to tie fabric tokens or paper tags with wishes and reflections written on them onto branches, left as ziyaret (pilgrimage) offerings for the visitor’s dreams to come true.

You can see them all over Turkey – easily recognisable by their many colourful pieces of cloth and scarves tied around their branches in rural areas. In some places, you may also see Nazar hung from Wishing Trees.

Traditionally it is the young single girls of marriageable age who would go there to make a wish – usually for a handsome husband – by tying their scarves around the branches while making their wish. This practice itself is not a part of Islamic culture.

Wishing trees in the UK

In the UK, as well as Wishing Trees with ribbons and notes, you will see coins hammered into old trees.

According to beliefs that date back to the beginning of the 18th century, if a sick person pressed a coin into the tree, their illness would go away. It was also thought that if a person pulled out a coin, they would become ill. It’s also been said that it brings fortune and once the coin was driven past the bark, they would be granted a wish.

Although there are many mysterious Coin Wishing Trees in the UK, you will still see trees with ribbons and notes dotted around if you keep an eye open.

We found this Wishing Tree in the garden of a house near Hadleigh Park in Essex – and had to leave a wish.

Local Wishing Trees

If you look carefully when you’re out and about in Fethiye and surrounding areas, you may see a Wishing Tree or two.

Next time you see a Wishing Tree, make sure you leave a wish.

Sources – Wikipedia/Nomadic Son/urnabios.com/allthatsinteresting.com

This article was first published on 10 March 2022

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