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What's the Wishbone Story?

Horseshoes, Lucky Clovers and Wishbones are all symbols of good luck, but a wishbone is probably the only one you'll find in your dinner. You may have wished on a wishbone but do you know how the lucky story began?

The "wishbone" is sometimes called a "merry-thought" and it is the bone found over the breastbone of chickens and fowls. Traditionally wishbones are removed from cooked birds during carving and then cleaned and left to dry, sometimes for three days for "extra luck".

Next comes the wishing part. The dried wishbone is given to two people who make a wish while each pulling their side of the bone with little fingers until the wishbone snaps. The person with the longest piece has "a lucky break" and of course their wish will come true! The other person got the "bad break", but "thems the breaks" and there are always "first stars" and "wishing candles" to compensate.  If both broken pieces are exactly even in length; both wishes will come true. 

Unbroken wishbones symbolise the promise of luck and were used to illustrate New Year cards and Good Luck postcards during the early part of last century and lucky charms included the symbol of the wishbone however, the history of the wishbone goes back way before that. One theory is that the Italian Etruscans in 300 BC believed chickens could tell the future because hens squawk before laying and roosters announce the new day. High priests interpreted answers from the order the birds pecked at corn kernels. After the bird was sacrificed (so much for being all knowing) the "wishbone" was hung out to dry and anyone could stroke the sacred bone to make a wish. The Romans took on these customs but fought over who would get the good fortune and so broke the bones. Later this tradition spread to England and is still a customary part of many people's celebrations, prompting best wishes, good luck and merry thoughts!

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