Symbol Revealed: The History of the Wishbone Pendant

Humans are practically hardwired to seek out good fortune. For generations, both children and adults have anxiously awaited the end of the Thanksgiving meal so they could descend upon the turkey carcass and snatch the coveted “wishbone.” Located between the turkey’s neck and breast, the wishbone has long been known to offer good luck to anyone who successfully wins the “Wishbone Game.” But where did this quirky holiday tradition originate? Why are we all so determined to snag good vibes from a bird’s bone? And in these modern times, is there a better way to harness this symbolic good fortune?

A sterling silver wishbone pendant necklace

Ancient History of the Wishbone

The wishbone-breaking game has been around for centuries. It’s believed that it originated with the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization (700 BCE to 100 BCE) that considered birds to be oracles that could predict people’s futures. When the Etruscans slaughtered a chicken, they would harvest its wishbone and set it out in the sun to dry, in hopes of preserving the chicken’s divine powers. People passing by would hold the bone in their hands and softly stroke it while making wishes upon it. This is where the wishbone gets its modern-day name.

Nowadays, we don’t sit around the dinner table caressing turkey bones, but many households across this country and beyond do still make a wish based on the idea that the bird (or the bird’s bone?!) may grant our request. It sounds silly, but it can be fun with family and friends who are willing to play along and partake in some friendly competition.

Rules of the Game

The rules are simple: Two people each hold tight to either side of the bone, and at the ready signal they simultaneously pull to split the bone apart as they silently make a wish. Once the bone is broken, whoever is left holding the larger piece wins the game—and ostensibly gets their wish granted. We have heard of various familial rules and regulations that may determine hand placement and home court advantages—but we leave that to you and your dining companions. Ultimately, the wishbone game is meant to be a fun way to end a turkey dinner and foster good energy during the holiday season.

 A sterling silver wishbone pendant necklace on a blonde girl

A Modern Spin on Tradition

Vegetarian? Squeamish? More interested in eating your turkey than playing with the leftovers? If you’re thinking, “I’m not really into battling over bones but I could still use some good fortune,” we have a perfect stylish twist on this time-honored idea. The WISHBONE Pendant Necklace offers symbolic good vibes any day of the year, without all the competitive (or cooking!) hassle. As with all our Hidden Message Necklaces, you decide whether you want to keep the meaning behind your necklace your own little secret, or share it’s symbolism with others. 

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