How to Make a Wish on a Wishbone

Written by donna tinus
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How to Make a Wish on a Wishbone
The proper way to pull a wishbone. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Making a wish on a wishbone dates back 2,400 years to the Etruscans in Italy, according to Charles Panati, author of the book, "Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things." They believed the cock and hen were soothsayers who could predict the future and practised a tradition called the "hen oracle," which was similar to the Ouija board, but with a hen and grains of corn. When one of these sacred birds were killed, the collarbone was dried and the Etruscans stroked it to make a wish. There were only a few sacred fowl collarbones to go around, thus starting the practice of breaking them. The Romans brought the tradition to England, where it is referred to as a "merrythought." The Pilgrims brought the tradition to America, using the turkeys they found in the wooded northeast area where they settled. We assume they snapped wishbones at the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Chicken, turkey or other poultry

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  1. 1

    Dry the collarbone of a turkey, chicken or other form of poultry. Take all the meat off of it, and lay someplace to dry. It should take about three days for the collarbone to dry and turn into the magical wishbone.

  2. 2

    Find a partner to pull the wishbone with you. Most friends and family should be willing to take the chance to have a wish fulfilled, so this shouldn't be too hard.

  3. 3

    Make a fist and put one end of the bone between your pinky and ring fingers. Have your partner do the same. The wishbone should be sticking up in the air in an upside down "V" shape. This ensures no one person has an advantage over the other person with both people holding the wishbone in the same place.

  4. 4

    Make a wish. Think about something you would like to have, or have happen. It should be a secret wish, so do not say the wish out loud.

  5. 5

    Count to three, and when you say "three," both participants should pull on their end of the wishbone. The wish will come true for the person with the longer bone. Each person's wish will come true if the bone breaks evenly.

Tips and warnings

  • Some traditions believe the person with the shorter bone will be married soon.

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