Why Do We Wish on a Wishbone? 

This little bone sits at the bottom of the sternum and has the job of attaching the clavicles.  You may know where it is, but did you know that without it a bird couldn’t fly? It is the spring that releases energy when the bird takes flight by flapping its wings.

The origin of the coveted wishbone seems to date back to ancient or potentially medieval times. The story is thought to have started with an Italian civilization known as the Etruscans, who held fowl, especially chickens, to the highest regard. 

They actually believe the chicken’s divine future predicting powers could be preserved by saving the furcula (now known as the wishbone). They set it in the sun to dry and any passersby could hold it up and stroke it while making a wish on it. 

Today, we’ve created another potential for family feuds by awarding only the person with the largest half the wish. By most accounts, we can thank the Romans for that. 

After the Romans came in contact with the Etruscans they adopted some of their beliefs. However, since chickens were in short supply they developed the wishbone breaking technique so that the wish could be fairly awarded to the more talented and deserving party. 

The English adopted this ritual from the Romans and when they settled on Plymouth rock the tradition continued using the abundance of wild turkey. Apparently, at that point, the divinity of the chicken had been forgotten except for the wishing game. 

If you are in it to win it this year here are a few tips that could get you the coveted wish:

  1. Scope out the bone.  Be the brave one that digs it out of the turkey so that you can inspect it first.  Pick the bigger, stronger side. 
  2. Use clean dry hands.  If you live in a permitting house, try using a gripping tool such as a Jar Gripper Pad.
  3. Controversy exists on whether you should stay still and let the other person pull or if you should pull with all you’ve got.
  4. Controversy exists on where to hold the wishbone; the base or the center of the bone is most recommended.

Good luck, may your fortune yield the larger bone and all the good luck fortune it holds.