Wish Bone


The informant is one of my close friends who I remembered telling me about this tradition around 10 years ago when we were kids. He practiced this tradition every thanksgiving with his family after carving their thanksgiving turkey. I reached out to the informant to get some more insight and background on the tradition and hear from him about the significance it holds to him and his family.

Main Piece:

The tradition involves removing the ‘wish bone’ of the thanksgiving turkey after carving it on thanksgiving. They then set the wishbone out to dry for a few days. The bone is in sort of a Y shape. After the bone dries, two people wish for something they want to happen and then stand across from one another. The bone is then grabbed on each handle of the Y shape by those who made their wish. The two participants then pull the bone apart, and whoever ends up with the longer end of the wishbone is said to have their wish come true.


The informant learned this tradition from his parents and would practice it every thanksgiving with his older brother. It was one of the most meaningful and exciting parts of Thanksgiving for the informant and something he looked forward to every year. He is a Caucasian male of protestant faith and stated that his parents had taught him the tradition and learned it from their parents. He stated that his parents had both been practicing it with their respective families every year since they were children.


This tradition immediately made me think of a trope that goes “How did I end up with the short end of the stick”. In this trope, the person who got the short end of the stick had something unfortunate happen to them or had to do something unpleasant. This saying implies that the person who did not end up with “the short end of the stick” must have been lucky or fortunate. In this wishbone tradition surrounding thanksgiving, it takes this trope to a literal level in which two people literally break apart a bone and one person ends up with a long end, and a short end. Similar to the “Short end of the stick” trope, this tradition involves the person ending up with the long end of the bone and getting their wish granted, while the other would be left with a short end of a bone.