Since we've been discussing all things auspicious this week, one particular person I know loves to save a wishbone every time he carves the turkey. I often find them, days later, hanging to dry in odd places around the manor. When I was a girl, I remember seeing them tied up with ribbons to adorn gift packages in the 1950's. I posted on this subject a few years ago, but thought you might enjoy a little reprise on the background of the quirky tradition of the luck of the wishbone.
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.