The Wishbone of Thanksgiving Dinner

The informant is a 20-year-old man who lives in California. When asked about tradition on holidays, he told the collector about the wishbone tradition that he and his family have.

Collector: Can you tell me some traditions that you and your family do on holidays?

Informant: Well, the only thing I can think of right now is the wishbone.

Collector: Ok tell me about that.

Informant: When you carve the turkey during Thanksgiving dinner, you take the wishbone… this specific v-shape chest bone out and put it in a cup to dry completely, which usually would be the case after a day or two. After it’s completely dried, two people get to pull each side of the bone and whoever gets the bigger piece gets to make a wish. I remember I wished for a lot of money one time when I was in middle school.

The wishbone tradition on Thanksgiving is a common practice in American households. The informant describes the specific tradition in his family that involves drying the bone and the idea of who has the right to make a wish. There are a lot of variations of this tradition: for instance, two people should wish at the same time and whoever gets the bigger piece will have their wish granted (see this article for reference). The wishbone tradition came from Etruscans hoping to gain divine power through the wishbone and Romans decided to crack the bones so everyone can have a piece (see this article for reference). It is interesting to see the European tradition of cracking the wishbone migrate across the Atlantic Ocean and blend into the American Holiday of Thanksgiving.