To get to the wishbone, one MUST do some serious, serious turkey eating. Then once found, it must dry out for a day or two for the ritual to work properly. So, good luck with your wishbone. And don’t forget the fabulous leftovers! If you’re reading this on the afternoon after Thanksgiving, I’m on my second helping. Enjoy yours!!  :-)))

By now, I hope you have recovered from your Thanksgiving coma – (see science on tryptophan), patched up the inappropriate conversation damage done with the relatives, and gotten your fill of football, stuffing and pie (never enough pie! Pumkin and Apple Caramel!).  Now, as you decide just how much and which of the leftovers you plan to consume today (turkey mayo sandwich, stuffing and gravy, potatoes and jellied cranberry sauce, or just the green bean casserole), I wanted to share a little history and fun facts on the wishbone tradition.  Growing up in the Kowalski house, Thanksgiving is quite the undertaking – making all the food, heading down to the metro parks for the pick-up football game and associated trips to the ER, enough pie for 20.  Today, with all the kids and grandkids and great grandkids, we need an offsite location to feed the 88 who will be able to make it back to Cleveland this year!?.  One of my favorite memories is the breaking of the turkey wish bone.  Mom used to pull it out of the “bird” and set it on the kitchen windowsill to let it dry.  On Friday, she had to choose who got to do the wish ceremony (come to think of it, this could be where Dad got his inspiration for PIA (Pain in the @%$) Jobs!).  The wishbone ritual is much older than you probably suspect, even though it came to America with the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. In fact, it began thousands of years earlier in the ancient Etruscan civilization.  Enjoy the info below, and thanks to and Now go get some more pie!

  • Thanksgiving is one of America’s most beloved holidays and is full of traditions. Some are relatively modern additions — but others, like the breaking of the turkey’s wishbone (technically known as the furcula), have ancient origins.
  • Though wishbones are commonly associated with turkeys, all poultry have them — chickens, ducks, broad-breasted vs. heritage turkeys, and even geese — and people have been using these domesticated birds to grant wishes or tell the future since ancient times.
  • The Etruscans were a civilization in ancient Italy (from at least 800 BC) who practiced bird divination — the practice of using birds as oracles to predict the future. Chickens were allowed to peck at Etruscan letters on the ground to divine the answers to questions about the future. When a chicken was killed, the Etruscans laid the wishbone in the sun so the people could touch it and continue to use the chicken’s oracle power even after its death. People who touched the bone made wishes as they did, which is why we now commonly call it the wishbone.
  • Poultry have a long history of being used to grant wishes and tell the future. Ancient Greeks used to place grain on marked cards or mark kernels of corn with letters and carefully record which ones their chickens pecked first. The Roman army carried cages of “sacred chickens” with them — the designated chicken keeper was known as the pullarius. Once, as Andrew Lawler writes in Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?, the sacred chickens suggested a Roman general stay in camp. He fought instead and “he and most of his army were slain within three hours as a devastating earthquake shook Italy.” Obey the chickens, or else became the cry, as  poultry premonitions became so important that many advisers began to game the system. Chickens were often kept hungry or overfed the day before “divining” desired answers.
  • Over time, instead of wishing on bones on the ground, the Romans grappled over the wishbone to break it, with the victor being the person who broke off the larger part of the bone. The Romans brought their culture and traditions with them to the British Isles, and the wishbone tradition caught on there.
  • The first recorded practice of wishbone divination in Britain dates back to 1455; a goose wishbone (called a merrythought) was used to divine the weather on St. Martin’s Day, a harvest celebration that fell in November. Merrythoughts were sometimes broken between two single people, and the person who got the longer side of the bone was then predicted to marry first. The English colonists then brought the poultry bone tradition along with them to America and included it in the first Thanksgiving celebration.
  • The first known mention of the word “wishbone” as it refers specifically to a turkey bone was in an 1842 article in The Sun newspaper of Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Other religions also have ceremonies that involve poultry, many of them controversial. During Yom Kippur, some Jews practice kapparot where a live chicken is swung overhead in a circle three times, taking on that person’s sins, before the bird is slaughtered and given to the poor.
  • Geese helped foretell how bad the coming winter would be in European and Scandinavian traditions. Tate writes that after St. Martin’s Night, a dried goose’s breastbone would be examined to determine “whether the coming winter would be cold, wet, or dry.”
  • Many children like to study the wishbone long and hard before deciding which side they think will win a coveted wish. Today the internet has taken a bit of magic out of the wishbone tradition with tips on winning like choosing the thicker side (obvious) or ones that use the physics of pulling apart a two-pronged bone to your advantage like holding the wishbone closer to the center or letting the other person do most of the pulling.
  • When you face off with someone to break a wishbone, you carry on a tradition that harkens back thousands of years and spans continents. Here’s wishing that you break off the bigger piece this post-Thanksgiving Day!



Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!



0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please prove you aren't a robot: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.