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Dear Matthew Alice:

We all know that people like to toss coins into fountains and other artificial bodies of water, but why? To make a wish? How did this practice of throwing money away into water start?

-- Tim Karter, Las Vegas

Throwing money into water is called owning a boat. Mostly bad luck. Throwing money into fountains and making a wish is a custom that goes back at least to medieval times. People appeased the spooky, powerful water gods by dropping offerings into springs and wells. Didn't work then, doesn't work now. Throwing money into a volcano is called going to Vegas. Mucho, mucho bad luck.

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