Turkey Wishbone

The informant is a 21 year old male, studying in New York. He recounts his memories of a game he used to play with his family.

me: can you tell me a little bit about this tradition?

When we were little and we used to have turkey, when we would get to the wishbone and we would take the wishbone and dry it in the oven… dry it in the oven to dry it out… and then two people would take each end of the wishbone and pull in opposite directions and it would break, oh and the wishbone is shaped like a Y, I’m pretty sure its the sternum, and whomever umm got the bigger piece would get to make a wish, like when it’s broken, the bottom of the Y would end up only on one side and so one person would get that and the other person wouldn’t.

me: do you have a specific memory of doing this?

not a specific memory, but we used to always make rotisserie turkey, like it used to be a family thing, we made the marinade and made the turkey and everyone helped with something. It was something that we did pretty often. When I think about it I remember how much fun we used to have seeing who would get the wishbone in their food and then all the suspense while it was drying, and then the person who got the wishbone would get to picj who they wanted to pull on the other side, and that was always really hard because I have a ton of siblings and also my parents really loved to play too. And early on it was fun because with any superstition like that, you want to be the one who gets to make the wish and later on it was fun because of the tradition.


Having participated in this tradition myself, I feel very connected to this piece. It is very common for everyone but especially kids to look for any and all ways to make wishes, ie eyelashes, shooting stars, specific times on the clock. This wish holding belief is especially fun in that it requires suspense and a bit of a game!