Unlocking the Meaning: What Does a Wishbone Symbolize?

Have you ever heard of a wishbone? Chances are, you probably have. Most people associate wishbones with Thanksgiving and the tradition of two people pulling on either end of a turkey’s wishbone to see who gets the bigger half and subsequently, good luck. But have you ever stopped to truly think about what a wishbone symbolizes? It’s more than just a fun holiday game.

The wishbone has been a symbol of luck, divination, and wishes for centuries. In fact, it dates back to ancient Etruscan and Roman cultures where chickens were used in their divination practices. The practice evolved over time, and eventually, the tradition of breaking the wishbone became popular in England during the 16th century. It wasn’t until the late 19th century in America that it became a popular Thanksgiving tradition.

But why do people make wishes on a wishbone? It’s believed that the wishbone can grant wishes because it’s a symbol of the bird’s power to fly. In ancient times, it was believed that birds were messengers of the gods and had heavenly powers. Thus, the wishbone was seen as a way to tap into this divine power and make a wish. It’s a fascinating concept that speaks to our innate desire for hope and a little bit of magic in our lives.

History of the Wishbone Tradition

The tradition of breaking the wishbone dates back to the ancient Romans, who believed that chickens were oracles that could predict the future. The tradition involved two people pulling on the dried wishbone of a chicken until it broke, and whoever ended up with the larger piece would have their wish granted by the gods.

  • It is believed that the tradition of breaking the wishbone was brought to America by English settlers in the 17th century.
  • Over time, the wishbone tradition has evolved to include breaking wishbones from other animals, such as turkeys, ducks, and geese.
  • Today, the wishbone tradition is often associated with Thanksgiving, where families gather around the dinner table to break the wishbone of a cooked turkey.

The wishbone tradition has not only been a symbol of good luck and hope but also has had scientific significance in understanding the mechanics of materials and stress. Researchers have used the wishbone as a model to understand how forces are transmitted and how stress fractures occur in bones. In fact, the shape and structure of a wishbone have led to many advancements in material engineering and design.

CharacteristicsWishbone (Fused Clavicles)Human Clavicles
ShapeV-shaped, long and narrowS-shaped, short and broad
MaterialDry, brittle boneLiving tissue
FunctionTransmit force from wings to bodyConnect shoulder blade to arm bone
Bending strengthHighLow

From ancient oracle predictions to material engineering, the wishbone has indeed come a long way. And who knows? Maybe the tradition of breaking the wishbone will continue to evolve and hold significance for generations to come.

Thanksgiving Lore and the Wishbone

Thanksgiving is a time for families to gather and celebrate gratitude for all the blessings they have received throughout the year. It is a time for sharing stories, catching up with each other’s lives, and of course, indulging in a sumptuous meal. One of the most popular traditions during this holiday season is breaking the wishbone. The wishbone is the forked bone located between the turkey’s neck and breast and is a symbol of good luck and fortune.

  • History of the Wishbone
  • Breaking the Wishbone
  • Superstitions Associated with the Wishbone

The tradition of breaking the wishbone dates back to the Romans, who believed that birds are fortune tellers. They would hold a chicken’s clavicle and make a wish. It was believed that the direction in which the bone broke would indicate if their wishes would come true or not. This practice was passed down through generations, and when the turkeys were introduced to America, the wishbone tradition became an integral part of Thanksgiving.

Breaking the wishbone is a simple and fun activity that adds excitement to the Thanksgiving celebration. After the turkey has been carved, the wishbone is removed, and the two people make a wish while holding onto each end. They then pull the wishbone at the same time, and the person who gets the larger piece is believed to have their wish granted.

Superstitious beliefs surrounding the wishbone are prevalent in different cultures. In some countries, like Germany, the wishbone is known as “the magic bone” and is believed to have healing powers. While in other cultures, it is believed that if a person makes a wish on the wishbone, it must not be spoken out loud, or the wish won’t come true.

EnglandWishbones were carried by soldiers for good luck during the war.
ItalyLegend has it that if a man win the wishbone, he will marry within a year.
IrelandIt was believed that a goose’s wishbone had medicinal powers.

The wishbone is just a small part of the Thanksgiving celebration, but it is a tradition that brings family and friends together and adds a touch of excitement to the festivities. Whether you believe in the superstitions or not, breaking the wishbone remains an exciting and enjoyable activity that symbolizes the spirit of the holiday season.

Symbolism of Breaking the Wishbone

The tradition of breaking the wishbone dates back to the ancient Etruscans of Italy. They believed that birds were divine creatures with the power to communicate with the gods. When a bird was killed, its collarbone, or wishbone, was saved and dried in the sun. Two people would then hold the dried wishbone, make a wish, and pull on either end until it broke. The person who ended up with the larger piece was said to have their wish granted. Today, the wishbone is commonly associated with Thanksgiving and is often found in roasted turkeys.

The wishbone has many symbolic meanings, including:

The Number 3

  • The wishbone is shaped like a Y, which symbolizes the choice between two paths. When it breaks into three pieces, it represents the third option – a new path that wasn’t previously considered.
  • Breaking the wishbone is typically done with two people, and the number 3 represents the third, impartial party – luck. The breaking of the wishbone is often thought to be a game of chance, and the winner was chosen by the impartial force of luck.
  • In numerology, the number 3 represents growth, creativity, and self-expression. The breaking of the wishbone is seen as a way to facilitate personal growth and create new opportunities.

Superstitions and Legends

Breaking the wishbone has many superstitions and legends attached to it:

  • If the wishbone breaks evenly, it’s considered a bad omen and means that the wish won’t come true.
  • It’s said that if the wishbone is hung over a door, it will bring good luck to the household.
  • According to some legends, the wishbone must be broken by two people who have never broken it before to make the wish come true.

The Power of Intention

While breaking the wishbone is often seen as a game of chance, the power of intention plays a significant role in whether or not the wish comes true. Like many other forms of manifestation, the act of making a wish and putting positive energy behind it increases the likelihood that it will be granted. The breaking of the wishbone can serve as a reminder to focus on our desires and to put intention and positive energy behind them.

The Anatomy of a Wishbone

The wishbone, or furcula, is a forked bone located between the neck and breast of a bird. It’s made up of two clavicles that are fused together. When the bird is cooked, the wishbone can be easily removed and dried. To break the wishbone, two people each hold onto one end and pull until it snaps. The person with the larger piece is believed to have their wish granted.

LeftThe left side is traditionally associated with females, motherhood, and the moon. Breaking the left side of the wishbone is said to bring good luck in family matters.
RightThe right side is associated with males, fatherhood, and the sun. Breaking the right side is said to bring good luck in personal or career matters.

The symbolism and legends surrounding the wishbone may vary, but the act of making a wish and putting positive energy behind it remains a powerful tool for manifestation.

Superstitions Surrounding the Wishbone

For generations, the wishbone has been a symbol of good luck and a favored object for divining the future. However, different cultures have their own interpretation of what the wishbone represents. Here are some of the superstitions surrounding the wishbone:

The Number Four

  • In Chinese culture, the number four is considered unlucky because it sounds similar to the word for death. Therefore, breaking a wishbone into four pieces could be seen as a bad omen.
  • On the other hand, in Western culture, the number four is considered lucky because the wishbone is traditionally broken in half, creating four prongs. Each person who breaks off a piece is said to receive a portion of the luck associated with the bone.
  • Similarly, Native American tribes believe that breaking the wishbone into four pieces represents the Four Directions (north, south, east, and west) and the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water), bringing harmony and balance into the world.

As with any superstition, the interpretation of the number four in wishbone tradition depends on regional beliefs and cultural context. Whether the number four represents good fortune or ill fate, the tradition of breaking the wishbone continues to hold a special place in many households around the world.

Meaning of the Wishbone in Different Cultures

The wishbone is a symbol that is found in many cultures and carries different meanings depending on the context. In some cultures, it is considered as a symbol of good luck, while in others, it is associated with fortitude, strength, and resilience.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the meaning of the wishbone in different cultures and the symbolism it carries:

Number 5: Chinese Culture

  • In Chinese culture, the wishbone is known as “chicken bone” or “jixi” in Mandarin.
  • The wishbone is believed to bring good luck and is often given as a gift during the Chinese New Year.
  • It is also believed that if you make a wish while holding the wishbone and it breaks evenly, your wish will come true.
  • Moreover, the number “5” is also significant in Chinese culture as it represents the five elements of the universe: water, fire, wood, metal, and earth.
  • Many Chinese traditions and practices are based on the number “5”, including the five elements, five directions, and five virtues.

The wishbone symbolizes good fortune, hope, and the power to manifest dreams into reality. It inspires people to persevere and continue working towards their goals, despite any obstacles that may come their way.

“The wishbone will never replace hard work, but it will remind you of all the things you’re working for.” – Tim Ferriss


The wishbone is an ancient symbol that has been used in many cultures throughout history. Whether it represents good luck, strength, or resilience, it serves as a reminder to never give up on your dreams and to approach life with optimism and an open mind.

CultureMeaning of the Wishbone
AmericanGood Luck/Splitting of the Bone
BritishFortitude and Resilience
ChineseGood Luck and Manifestation of Dreams into Reality
RomanDivine Will and Omens

Overall, the wishbone is a powerful symbol that has stood the test of time and continues to inspire people from all walks of life to reach for the stars and never give up on their dreams.

Mythological Significance of the Wishbone

The wishbone has played a significant role in mythology across various cultures. In fact, it has been used in divination and as a symbol in ancient cultures such as the Etruscans and the Greeks.

  • In Greek mythology, the wishbone was associated with the Greek god Apollo. According to the myth, Apollo created the first wishbone and gave it to the goddess Artemis. The wishbone was then passed on to humans as a symbol of good luck, prosperity, and happiness.
  • The Etruscans, who were a powerful civilization in ancient Italy, also believed in the wishbone’s mystical powers. They used the wishbone to predict the future by interpreting the pattern made by the two forks after they were snapped apart.
  • In Norse mythology, the wishbone is associated with the god Odin. He was known for his great wisdom and was believed to have sacrificed his eye to the well of wisdom to gain all-encompassing knowledge about the world. Similarly, the wishbone was used as a tool to gain insight into the future and to obtain wisdom.

The wishbone is still widely used today as a symbol of good luck and fortune, and its mythological significance has played a role in shaping its meaning and symbolism.

Wishbone Jewelry and Decor

Wishbones have long been a symbol of hope and luck, and it’s no surprise that wishbone jewelry and decor have become so popular. Whether you’re looking to add a little luck to your outfit or your home, wishbone-themed items are an excellent choice. Let’s take a closer look at what wishbones symbolize and how you can incorporate them into your life.

  • Number 7: The number 7 is often associated with luck, making it a perfect addition to any wishbone-themed jewelry or decor. Seven is considered a magical number in many cultures, and it’s often associated with spiritual and mystical powers.

If you’re looking to buy wishbone jewelry or decor, keep an eye out for items that incorporate the number 7 into their design. For example, a seven-pointed star or a piece of jewelry with seven wishbones would be a great way to add some extra luck to your life.

Of course, the number 7 isn’t the only way to add some luck to your wishbone-themed items. Here are a few other ideas:

  • Choose items with gold accents. Gold is often associated with wealth and success, which can be an added bonus to your wishbone-themed items.
  • Look for pieces with unique and intricate designs. The more eye-catching your wishbone jewelry or decor is, the more likely it is to attract attention and positive energy.
  • Pay attention to the size and shape of your wishbone items. Bigger and more substantial items tend to be more impactful, while smaller and daintier items are great for everyday wear.

If you’re looking to decorate your home with wishbone-themed items, there are plenty of options to choose from. Here are just a few ideas:

You can find wishbone-shaped candle holders, picture frames, wall art, and even furniture! When it comes to incorporating wishbone symbols into your home decor, the sky’s the limit. Simply choose items that speak to you and your personal style, and enjoy the added luck and positivity they bring into your life.

Wishbone jewelry and decor can add a fun and playful element to your style and home decor.Some people may not believe in the power of symbols and luck, and may not see the value in wishbone-themed items.
Wishbone symbols are a great way to inspire hope and positivity during challenging times.Some wishbone-themed items may be more expensive than others, depending on the materials used and the intricacy of the design.
Wishbone-themed items make great gifts for friends and loved ones, especially during milestone events like weddings, graduations, or job promotions.Some people may find wishbone symbols to be superstitious or silly, which could make them hesitant to wear or display wishbone-themed items.

Overall, wishbone jewelry and decor are a fun and lighthearted way to celebrate luck and positivity. Whether you choose to wear a wishbone necklace or hang a wishbone-shaped picture frame on your wall, these symbols are sure to bring a smile to your face and a little bit of luck to your life.

Wishbone as a Talisman or Amulet

In many cultures, wishbones have been regarded as a powerful talisman or amulet. These bones are said to hold incredible powers that can bring good fortune, happiness, and prosperity to those who possess them.

The Number 8

The number 8 holds immense significance in many cultures across the world. In China, for example, the number 8 is believed to be a symbol of good luck and prosperity. In fact, many people in China consider the number 8 to be the luckiest number of all. In Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese art of placement and design, the number 8 is also thought to be incredibly auspicious. According to Feng Shui practitioners, the number 8 represents wealth, success, and abundance.

  • The number 8 is often used in Chinese weddings, as it is believed to bring good luck and happiness to the couple.
  • Many businesses in China will go out of their way to incorporate the number 8 into their phone numbers, addresses, and even the prices of their products in order to attract good luck and prosperity.
  • In some cultures, the number 8 is also associated with infinity and eternity, as it is a never-ending loop when written in its numerical form.
Infinity LoopEternity and Continuity
Hourglass shapeBalance
NumberGood Luck and Prosperity

When paired with a wishbone, the number 8 is believed to double its powers. Holding onto a wishbone with the number 8 on it can amplify the bone’s energy and increase your chances of experiencing good luck and success in your life. It is not uncommon to see people carrying around wishbones with the number 8 on them as a symbol of good fortune and prosperity.

Wishbone Tattoos

Wishbone tattoos are a popular choice for those who want a small and meaningful symbol on their body. It is a design that has been around for years and has various interpretations depending on the person wearing it.

The Number 9

The number 9 is significant in many cultures and religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism. It symbolizes spiritual awakening and enlightenment, representing completion and new beginnings. Wishbone tattoos often incorporate the number 9, representing the wearer’s desire for growth, self-improvement, and a more fulfilling life.

  • The number 9 can represent the nine stages of spiritual transformation in Buddhism, from realizing the truth to achieving Nirvana.
  • In Hinduism, the number 9 is associated with the planet Mars and its warrior-like qualities, representing courage and strength.
  • In numerology, the number 9 is considered a powerful and spiritual number, representing leadership, intuition, and selflessness.

When getting a wishbone tattoo with the number 9, it is essential to reflect on the personal meaning behind the number and how it relates to your life. It can serve as a reminder of your spiritual journey and the constant pursuit of growth and self-improvement.

Here is a table that highlights some additional meanings and symbolisms associated with the number 9:

EnlightenmentAchieving a higher level of consciousness and awareness
CompletionThe end of a cycle or stage of life, ready for a new beginning
Spiritual growthThe continual evolution of the soul and spirit
LeadershipThe ability to lead and inspire others towards positive change

Overall, wishbone tattoos with the number 9 can represent a deep and meaningful desire for personal growth and spiritual enlightenment. It serves as a reminder to embrace new beginnings and to always strive to become the best version of ourselves.

Wishbone in Literature and Art

In literature and art, the wishbone symbolizes hope, luck, and the human desire for a better future. It has been a popular subject in both visual and written arts and has appeared in various forms throughout history. Below, we explore some of the notable appearances of the wishbone in literature and art:

  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville: In this classic novel, Ishmael and Queequeg break a wishbone when they first meet. The broken wishbone is seen as a symbol of their friendship and the hope of finding good luck in their whaling journey.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: The wishbone plays a significant role in the novel, where Jem and Scout compete for the larger part of the wishbone with each other. It serves as an emblem of their sibling rivalry but also represents their dreams and aspirations for their future.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte’s coronation painting: This famous painting depicts Napoleon Bonaparte’s coronation as the Emperor of France, where he is shown holding a sceptre with a golden wishbone as its handle. This symbolizes the idea of power and prosperity in his rule.

In addition to literature and art, the wishbone has also been a popular subject in various objects, such as jewelry, home decor, and even Christmas traditions. Its significance remains the same, being a symbol of hope and the possibility of a brighter future.


Overall, the wishbone symbolizes hope, luck, and the human desire for a better future. Its significance extends beyond literary and artistic works, making it a timeless symbol that has been popular for generations. Undoubtedly, this small yet significant object embodies the hope that we all hold within us for a better tomorrow.

– Popular symbol of hope and luck– Might be seen as a superstitious belief
– Appears in literature and art
– Used in various objects such as jewelry and home decor
– Timeless and popular for generations

The wishbone may be a small and simple object, but its significance bears a significant impact on art, literature, and our everyday lives.

What Does a Wishbone Symbolize?

Q: What is a wishbone?
A: A wishbone is a bone found in the breast of a bird, typically a chicken or a turkey, that is forked and believed to bring good luck when pulled apart.

Q: What does the wishbone symbolize?
A: The wishbone symbolizes luck, hope and the power of wishes. When two people tug on each end of a chicken wishbone, whoever gets hold of the larger part is believed to have their wish granted.

Q: What is the history behind the wishbone tradition?
A: The wishbone tradition can be traced back to the Etruscans, who believed that chickens were sacred birds and that the clavicle bone (wishbone) held special powers. The tradition later spread to the Romans and the Europeans.

Q: What should I do if I find a wishbone?
A: If you find a wishbone, dry it out and give it a pull with someone else while making a wish. The person who gets the larger piece will have their wish come true.

Q: Is there a specific time or occasion to pull a wishbone?
A: There isn’t a specific time or occasion to pull a wishbone, but it is often done during holiday feasts like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Q: Can I use any bone to make a wish?
A: No, you can only use the wishbone of a chicken or a turkey. Other bones do not have the same wish-granting power.

Q: Is the wishbone tradition still popular today?
A: Yes, the wishbone tradition is still popular today, especially during holiday feasts. It is a fun way to bond with family and friends and bring good luck into our lives.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for reading about what does a wishbone symbolize. Remember, the next time you find a wishbone, don’t forget to make a wish and pull it with someone. May all your wishes come true! Don’t forget to visit our website for more interesting articles like this.