Posted by Sharon M. on October 11, 2005
In Reply to: Re: Pennies from heaven posted by Smokey Stover on October 03, 2005
: : : Where does the phrase "pennies from heaven" come from, and what is the meaning?
: : We've discussed this before, but I don't think we reached a conclusion. Maybe: good fortune out of the blue?
: : http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/21/messages/850.html
: From the OED: "e. pennies from heaven: money acquired without effort or risk; unexpected benefits, esp. financial ones. Also (in sing.): a windfall, a godsend (rare). [1st two citations:] [1928 A. BURSTEIN Ghetto Messenger 91 The gentleman, being cognizant of 'pennies falling from heaven' and other tricks.., appeared to take it seriously.] 1936 J. BURKE (title of song) Pennies from heaven." SS
Contrary to the OED's grim view of pennies falling down from the sky, I found several places online which contribute this saying to a positive action done by caring angels. Some even take this expression literally and say that angels did pay them, and more than a visit (see a link below).
Also, a poem citing the custom (an excerpt) by Charles Marshburn:
"I found a penny today
Just laying on the ground.
But it's not just a penny,
this little coin I've found.
Found pennies come from heaven,
that's what my Grandpa told me,
He said angels toss them down
Oh, how I love that story!" (http://www.poofcat.com/inspir36.html).