Wishbone Game

Main Piece:

Informant: After eating dinner my sister and I grabbed the wishbone from the counter. The rest of the family gave their permission and all gathered around the watch the game. My sister and I sat across from each other on the dinner table and held both ends of the bone, with our elbows level on the table. No one is allowed to be positioned in a higher ground or else it is unfair. So we waited for my dad to say ‘Go!’ and then we both pulled the bone in opposite directions. Unfortunately, my sister won the game and because her side of the bone was larger after it broke. So she got all the luck and was able to make a wish from winning the larger side of the bone.  

Interviewer: How do you find the bone in the bird?

Informant: Well my dad loves this game and usually handles cleaning the meat off the chicken bones. So he always knows where to search for the wishbone. It looks like a V and is delicate! I think it’s in between the shoulders but really my dad knows. 

Interviewer: When do you know to play the game?

Informant: Well the bone is easily breakable so you always have to be extra careful when handling it. So my dad always lets the kids play but loves to watch and make sure we are extra focused. So my sisters and I are always eager to play the game right after dinner but sometimes my dad makes us wait till the bone is dry and ready to be broken! 

Background: The informant is 22 years old and home visiting her family of sisters and parents. The game is a family tradition when they are eating birds, bought, or hunted. The whole family participates in the game as observers or the second player. The informant recalls playing this game at a young age usually after dinner or once the bones have properly dried the next day. She learned this game from her father who insists on using the bone to make a wish, recounting his own memories playing with family and friends. The informant recalls this memory and continues this tradition because it is a fun way to bring friends and family together. 

Context: This piece was performed at the dinner table between siblings after dinner. The whole family has gathered around the watch the game. After the game ended, I interviewed the informant and learned more about the tradition. 

Thoughts: This is an interesting superstitious game played in the family setting. The family uses the bones from the meal they had just eaten. This is interesting because the luck comes from the food on the table. Whether the luck is real or not, the game brings camaraderie and light hearted fun to the family. It is deemed to be unlucky not to save the “Wish Bone” when eating a chicken or bird, and that this game is apart of the whole bird eating process as a whole. When returning home from living away from your family there is a need to play old childhood games and continue traditions.