The wishbone: A tradition dating back to an Ancient Italian civilization
Breaking a wishbone from a turkey and making a wish is a Thanksgiving tradition that’s been in use since the Pilgrims first landed in America. However, the practice is significantly older than that — by thousands of years, in fact. The popular act started with chickens and the Etruscans, an Ancient Italian civilization. According to historians, the Etruscans believed chickens brought good luck and could even predict the future. When a chicken was killed for consumption, their furcular bones were kept aside and dried in the sun in order to preserve the animal’s divination powers. The Etruscans would then stroke the bones and make wishes upon them. The act of breaking the bones to make a wish seems to have arisen in the ancient Roman culture after they picked up the tradition from the Etruscans. From there, the Romans passed on their love of wish-granting furcula to the British, who then brought it over to America on the Mayflower, where the turkey came to be the poultry of choice for wishbones.