Breaking the turkey wishbone is a tradition that has passed from generation to generation.

It sounds a bit barbaric, but children have been breaking this bone from their Thanksgiving dinner to find out who will get their wish since the Pilgrims came to America and before.

The wishbone is the furcula bone found in birds and fuses together the two clavicles, or shoulder bones. It is shaped in a “V” shape and the word furcula means “little fork”. The Etruscans were the first to use wishbones for mystic motives. They believed that chickens and roosters had the ability to tell the future because they foretold the coming of dawn with a crow, or predicted when they would lay an egg with a squawk. Hens foretold the future by pecking at corn placed on the ground. If they pecked at certain pieces of corn after a question was asked, the answer to the question was yes. When one of these mystic chickens was used in the cooking pot, the wishbone was extracted, much like a turkey bone is today, and they were available for people to stroke or stroke in order to receive a wish or have good fortune.

The most important thing to know about the wishbone is that it must be completely dry before trying to break it. This means, unfortunately, that a wishbone extracted from Thanksgiving dinner, cannot be used for several days because it is too pliable to break correctly. Start saving chicken wishbones prior to Thanksgiving so there are enough for everyone to break or instead make a new tradition. Create a craft with the wishbones on Thanksgiving to make them into an ornament for the Christmas tree. On New Year’s break the ornament bone and wish a New Year’s wish.

You will need:

  • Newspaper
  • Bowls
  • Paper Plates
  • Paper towels
  • Glitter
  • Clear-drying glue
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Glass with water
  • Wax paper
  • Cording, yarn or wire

1. Extract wishbones from chickens or turkeys and clean them well with water. Make sure to scrape off all flesh so that all that is left is the bone. Place the bones in a sunny windowsill to dry. They should dry in about three days. Once they dry, they become a little brittle, so keep them in a shoe box so they won’t get crushed and broken.
2. Cover the table with newspapers as this craft is a bit messy, but good to keep kids busy after or before Thanksgiving dinner.
3. Place different colored glitter in bowls.
4. Cover the wishbone with clear-drying glue and dip it in the bowls of glitter. Roll it around until it is completely covered.
5. Set the glitter covered bones on wax paper to dry.
6. Once dry, tie a piece of cording, yarn or wire to the V section of the bone in a loop or hanger.

NOTE: If you do not want glitter all over the house, squirt small amounts of acrylic paint onto a paper plate. Allow the children to paint their wishbones in crazy colors using a paintbrush. Dip paintbrush in water and dry with a paper towel between each color application. Set on wax paper to dry.

Should you decide to break the wishbones you saved on Thanksgiving, each person should hold each end of the bone in two fingers. Make a wish, count to three and pull. Whoever gets the longer piece will have their wish granted if they keep it a secret. If the bone breaks in equal parts, each person will get their wish. In some cultures the person with the short part of the bone will be married next.