Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wishful Thinking

    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 air dry until it is brittle.

    Once the wishbone 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 bigger 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.

    In its intact form, the wishbone itself does not confer good luck, but it holds the promise of luck to the one who gets the bigger half. 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 1906-1918 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 favor with the makers of lucky amulets.

Here are some more links that show pictures of wishbones and tell the story of how valuable they were in the early years:

No comments:

Post a Comment