Where Does The Tradition of Breaking the Wishbone Come From?


It has become a thanksgiving tradition in most families to break the wishbone of the turkey after the meal. No one quite knows why we do this, other than to be able to wish goodwill to ourselves or a loved one. Oddly enough this tradition dates back millenia, roughly around 2,400 years ago to the Etruscans, an ancient civilization in central Italy. The Etruscans believed that hens possessed powers of divination. They would select a hen and separate her from the rest. They would then place 20 kernels of corn in a circle to represent their alphabet, and allow the hen to eat the kernels of corn. The Etruscans would then record in order which kernels the hen would eat, and later use this information to predict events of the year. The selected hen would then be cooked and eaten. The hen’s collarbone would be set aside to dry in the sun. The Etruscan community would then stroke the bone to make a wish. This naturally turned into a tug-of-war in an effort to get a hold of the bone, which would eventually snap under the pressure.

The tradition of rubbing the collarbone of the chicken lasted throughout millenia, and eventually arrived on the shores of North American with the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims quickly realized however that the turkey was much more abundant than the chicken, ergo, the change from chicken collarbone to turkey “wishbone”. So the next time you are lucky enough to get the larger part of the wishbone remember that we wouldn’t have this lovely fortune bringing tradition if it weren’t for sacrificial chickens, Etruscans, and a dash of creativity.

reference:(http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/devotions/Butler_.Wishbone.aspx)

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