Thursday, December 10, 2009

The "Wishbone"

Our family has little traditions that we do over the years.
I believe this tradition was passed down from my dear Grandmother.
Anytime I cook a chicken or turkey, I make sure I save the wishbone.
I clean them off and let them dry on our windowsill in the kitchen.

When the time comes that I think we might need a wish or two...
We have the children break a wishbone with us. :)
It is something that is fun and we always like to see who will be the "winner" and who will have their wish maybe come true!

We have been doing this tradition for many many years now, since the children were little. I know they may think it silly that they are now older, but I know they would miss it if I stopped doing it!

I found some interesting information about this little tradition of the "wishbone breaking" and thought I would share it with you!

The Wishbone is to bring good luck to the person who comes away with the largest piece of bone in a little tug of war for two. For anyone unfamiliar with this tradition, each person takes hold of one end of the turkey's double-pronged clavicle. They pull until it breaks. The winner gets a wish.

There are several tricks that might help you win the contest.


Place your thumb higher up on your half of the wishbone and give a quick snap. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn't.

Try using just your first finger alone, or your the first finger and thumb to exert a little extra pressure.

All this competition began at least 2,400 years ago with the Etruscans who lived on the Italian peninsula. The Etruscans believed fowl were fortune tellers because the hen announced she would be laying an egg with a squawk and the rooster told of the coming of a new day with his early morning crowing. A circle was drawn in the dirt and divided into twenty wedges that represented the twenty letters in the Etruscan alphabet. A piece of grain would be placed in each wedge. A hen would then be allowed to peck at the grain. As she ate, a scribe would list the letters in order and those letters would be interpreted by the high priests to answer questions.

When one of these chickens was killed, its collarbone was considered sacred and left under the hot sun to dry. Anyone was permitted to stroke an unbroken bone and make a wish, thus, the name wishbone. The Romans took many of the Etruscan customs as their own and since everyone wanted good fortune, they fought over the bones, breaking them.

It is said that the phrases "I need a lucky break" or "I never get a break" come from being the loser in this tug of chicken bone contest.

The English heard of this superstition from the Romans and called their wishbones merry thoughts after the merry or happy wishes that most people desired. When the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in the New World, they brought along the custom of breaking the wishbone. When they discovered the northeastern woods of North America were filled with turkeys, they changed their custom from the chicken bone to the turkey bone.

Every time you have the privilege of breaking the wishbone or witnessing someone else doing it, just remember that's how they did it way back when.


1 comment:

  1. You are so funny! I have a wish bone on my window sill in the kitchen right now!!! My family used to break the wishbone too! My trick is to be the one that doesn't pull on the bone, as the larger piece will stay in the hand of the person who is not so eager to break it!


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