While cleaning up the Manor from the aftermath of Thanksgiving,
I found this dried wishbone hanging on the wine rack above the oven.
One particular person I know loves to save them every time he carves
the turkey! I often find them, days later, hanging to dry in odd places.
I can actually remember seeing them tied up with ribbons to adorn gift
packages in the 1950's. (Ick!) I thought you might enjoy a little
background on the quirky tradition of the luck of the wishbone this
week instead of our usual etymology.
The wishbone is the third member of the great Euro-American lucky
charm triumvirate, the other two being the horseshoe and the four
leaf clover. Sometimes called the "merrythought" in the British Isles,
the wishbone is a bone overlying the breastbone of fowl, but most
especially the chicken and the turkey. It is the custom to save this
bone intact when carving the bird at dinner and to dry it over the
stove or by the fire or, sometimes, to dry it for three days in the air,
three being a fortuitous magical number until it is brittle. Once the
merrythought is dry, it is given to two people, who pull it apart until
it cracks and breaks, each one making a wish while doing so. The
person who gets the long half of the wishbone will have his or her
wish come true. If the wishbone breaks evenly, both parties get their
wishes. In some families it is said that the wish will only come true
if it is not revealed to anyone. Because of its association with
conviviality and festive dinners, the wishbone has a long history of
use in holiday cards. The wishbone is found on numerous Good Luck
postcards of the era. In the 1930s, the wishbone was a common
image on North American good luck coins and one could even buy
little gold or silver wishbone charms; but by the 1990s it, like that
other dead animal part, the rabbit foot, had fallen out of favour with
the makers of lucky amulets.
Thanks to Falling apart Trisha on Answerbag for this info.