Meat shredded from the carcass, I dismantled the wishbone, put it to one side, and then carried on stirring the saucepan’s ingredients. A copious sprinkling of seasoning, a generous glug of Sauvignon Blanc added to root vegetables, meat and dumplings. Eventually, the goose stew was cooked after steaming on the hob – tantalising the taste buds for hours beforehand.

The table set, the wishbone on a dish in the centre (having been forgotten about on Christmas Day). My son and his partner pinched a side each of the furcula, the forked breast bone of birds, and tugged until it snapped. The one holding the biggest part was allowed a wish.

But where did the idea originate and why is the wishbone thought to be lucky? I had never thought about it before, even though it had been a family practice since childhood.

Apparently, they are associated with the Etruscan ancient civilization, who thought chickens could foretell the future and held divine powers. After eating them and drying the wishbones for several days, they believed that they would soak up the bird’s special energies by rubbing them.

The Romans continued the customs and started the bone-breaking ritual. Maybe it was a way of increasing the chances for more people to hanker after good fortune, although why other bones weren’t considered precious is unclear.

The British Isles have much to thank the Romans for, and their traditions were adopted and embellished to include duck, goose, and turkey when it was introduced from America. The wishbone is a prominent part of their Thanksgiving celebratory meal in modern times.

In the 17th century, instead of breaking the wishbone, another version was for it to be balanced on a person’s nose while expressing their desires and then flicking it away.   

These days, jewellery and charms of small imitation wishbones are worn as lucky talismans, but it’s only when a real one is broken that a wish can be requested and hopefully granted.

With that pleasing thought, I’ll sign off.

Until next time.
Sue. X

PS. The stew tasted scrumptious, by the way. Just what was needed on a chilly winter’s evening.