National Lucky Penny Day

Lefty Graves

May 23rd is National Lucky Penny Day. Long a rhyme that kids sang, “See a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.” While no one is exactly sure who to credit for that little rhyme, many school children have sung it over the years.

When I was a kid, a penny was worth about five pieces of hard candy. Today, that candy comes in a much larger bag, and it’s over $5. However, pennies still have their place in society even if they are being phased out of circulation and no one really wants them anymore.

If you’ve ever been in debt, and who amongst us hasn’t, you know the value of a penny. After all, if you find 100 pennies, you’ve collected a dollar. While many say only pick up pennies if they are found heads up, a penny is a penny when you’re broke.

Unfortunately, the cost of minting pennies far exceeds the face value of a penny. As a result, many nations are no longer minting coins that cost more to mint than they are worth. The first penny in the United States was issued and produced by a private mint in the year 1787. Benjamin Franklin designed it.

On one side, it read: “Mind Your Business,” and on the other side, it stated: “We Are One.” Comprised of 100 percent copper, it was larger than the penny we know today. It was referred to as a Fugio Cent. There are many rare pennies that are very valuable to coin collectors. If you happen to have a rare penny, it may be worth a small fortune so before you toss all of those pennies out, be sure that you do a bit of checking on your dates and styles to ensure that you’re not holding onto a small fortune.

How To Celebrate National Lucky Penny Day

  • Many grade school children still love pennies. A fun gift is filling a tiny baby food-sized jar with pennies and giving it to them. They’ll love it.
  • Pick up pennies that you find heads up. If they aren’t heads up, turn them over and leave them for someone else to find.
  • Check the dates on your pennies, compare them to rare issued coins, and see if you have any valuable pennies.
  • If you have an overly large penny collection, you can make the collection into a work of art. Many people turn them into countertops, floors, shower floors, etc. There are a lot of fun crafts that can be done with pennies.
  • Many brides carry a lucky penny.
  • Share your Lucky Penny Day stories on Social Media with #LuckyPennyDay.

The year before my son graduated high school; the graduating class was a very large class of nearly 3000 students. The principal shook each and every one of their hands as they walked. Each student palmed a penny to the principal that day. Needless to say, the principal had full pockets and was running out of places to put the pennies. The students kept straight faces as they each palmed him a penny. It became a tradition to palm the principal a penny at graduation the following year. The principal came prepared. He had a large water jug that went on a water dispenser at the ready. The students voted on a charity to donate the pennies to.

What fun things do you do with pennies? Share your lucky penny day stories with us in the comments section.


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Lefty has been writing online since 2000 on various topics, including youth mentoring, addiction, parenting, gardening, advocating for seniors, sustainability, farming & more. She resides on a farm with her family in Northeastern Washington state.

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