Wishful Thinking at Expo

The pond with the Little Mermaid statue at the Denmark Pavilion, among others, have become a popular place for visitors to throw or leave coins.

Chinese visitors have labeled the pond with the Little Mermaid statue a wishing well.

Officials at the Denmark Pavilion said they believed that it was the statue that upgraded the normal pond into a wishing well for Chinese visitors.

Lene Winther, chief of communications at the pavilion, said she wants to set up a notice board around the pond encouraging people to make a wish and throw a coin.

“If every visitor throws 1 yuan into the pond, we can donate a huge amount of money to charity organizations,” Winther said.

Psychologist Gu Xiaoming said it was just old Chinese “fashion” to throw coins into ponds or at statues if someone else started “the game” first.

He said most Chinese people will make a wish when they throw a coin.

Gu said he felt relieved that people weren’t throwing fruit or vegetables in tribute like they did in the old days.

In the Danish pavilion’s basement toilet, people can see the pond’s bottom. Coins are scattered around and even a jade bracelet can be seen.

Winther said they had not counted how much money had been thrown into the pond as cleaners have to retrieve the coins regularly or the water would get too dirty.

She said it was funny that some Chinese visitors threw coins because they believed there was a “living” mermaid in the pond. Some visitors often ask employees where they can see the exotic “creature.”

“I point to the statue, but they then ask me whether the mermaid is swimming beneath the statue because they still can’t see it,” said Winther.


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