What Does Wishbone Symbolize? Discover the Meaning Behind the Tradition

Every year, on Thanksgiving, people across the United States gather around their dinner tables to celebrate good food, great company, and a whole lot of gratitude. As the plates get passed around, everyone takes turns breaking the wishbone, hoping to get the bigger half and make their wishes come true. But have you ever stopped to think about what the wishbone symbolizes?

To some, the wishbone represents luck and hope. For others, it’s a reminder to always dream big and have faith in the power of manifestation. Whatever your interpretation, the wishbone carries a special significance that’s hard to ignore. From ancient times to modern-day, it has been a timeless tradition that’s been passed down from generation to generation.

As we bustle through our daily lives, it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures that make life worth living. Breaking the wishbone might seem like a small act, but it’s an expression of our hopes and dreams, reminding us to remain optimistic and embrace the magic of life. So this Thanksgiving, take a moment to reflect on the meaning behind the wishbone and all its wonderful symbolism.

History and Origin of the Wishbone Symbol

The wishbone symbol is a popular and recognizable image that is often associated with luck, wishes, and/or superstitions. The history of the wishbone symbol can be traced back to ancient times when birds were considered to be powerful and mystical beings. The ancient Romans, for example, believed that birds had the power to foretell the future and that their flight patterns and sounds could be interpreted as omens.

Interestingly, it was the Romans who were the first to associate the wishbone with good luck. They believed that the wishbone, which is technically called the furcula, was a sacred bone that held special powers. In fact, they often used wishbones in religious ceremonies and would make wishes on them after they had been dried out and preserved. When the Roman Empire fell, the tradition of using wishbones as lucky charms lived on and gradually spread throughout Europe.

Over time, the tradition of making wishes on wishbones became a popular superstition in many countries. Today, the wishbone is most commonly associated with Thanksgiving in the United States, where it is tradition to break the bone and make a wish on it with a friend or family member. The person who ends up with the larger piece of the wishbone is said to have his or her wish granted.

Superstitions and Folklore surrounding the Wishbone

Superstitions and folklore have always been a part of human culture, and the wishbone is no exception. Here are some of the most interesting beliefs and legends surrounding the bone:

  • Breaking the bone in two means good luck for the person who gets the bigger piece. This belief dates back to ancient times, when people believed that the ability to predict the future was hidden inside the bone.
  • In some cultures, the wishbone was used to predict the gender of unborn babies. A pregnant woman would hold one end of the bone while another person held the other end. If the wishbone broke, and the longer piece went to the woman, it was believed she would give birth to a boy. If the shorter piece went to her, she would give birth to a girl.
  • It is believed that carrying a wishbone can bring good luck to the bearer and help them make their wishes come true.

The wishbone was also believed to have healing properties. In medieval times, people would use it as a charm to ward off evil spirits and protect themselves from harm. The bone was often used to make jewelry, which was worn as a talisman to protect the wearer.

The superstitions surrounding the wishbone have inspired a number of games and traditions. One popular game involves two people pulling the bone apart, each making a wish. The person who ends up with the longer piece is said to have their wish granted.

Overall, the wishbone symbolizes hope, good luck, and the power of wishing. Whether you believe in the superstitions and folklore surrounding it or not, there’s no denying the enduring fascination and mystery that surrounds this humble bone.

The Anatomy and Science behind the Wishbone

The wishbone, also known as the furcula, is a fork-shaped bone found in birds and some dinosaurs. In birds, it is an important part of the skeletal structure, aiding in flight and providing strength and support to the wings. The wishbone is made up of two clavicles, or collarbones, that are fused together at the sternum.

Believe it or not, there is actually some science behind the tradition of breaking the wishbone. When a bird flaps its wings, the wishbone bends and flexes, storing energy that can be released upon impact. When two people pull on either end of the wishbone, that stored energy is released, causing the bone to snap in the middle. The person left holding the larger piece of wishbone is said to have good luck.

The History and Tradition of the Wishbone

  • The practice of breaking the wishbone can be traced back to the ancient Etruscans, who believed that chickens were oracles and could predict the future.
  • In ancient Rome, people would break the wishbone and make a wish, believing that the bones held magical powers that could grant their desires.
  • The tradition of the wishbone was brought to America by early European settlers, and it became a popular Thanksgiving tradition in the 1800s.

The Symbolism of the Wishbone

The wishbone has become a symbol for hope and good luck, often used as a charm or talisman. It represents the desire for good things to happen, and the belief that those good things are within reach. Breaking the wishbone with someone else is also a symbol of shared experience and connection.

The wishbone can also be seen as a reminder to be grateful for what we have and to keep our focus on the positive. Just as breaking the wishbone represents a hope for good luck, we can cultivate an attitude of optimism and hopefulness in our daily lives.

The Cultural Significance of the Wishbone

Throughout history, the wishbone has been a symbol of divination and fortune-telling. It has been used in various cultures as a tool for predicting the future, interpreting dreams, and even telling the gender of an unborn child.

Culture Wishbone Use
Turkish Used in wedding ceremonies to predict the happiness of the married couple.
Italian Used in divination to predict the weather and harvest.
Chinese Used in dream interpretation to symbolize a wish that has come true.

Today, the wishbone remains a popular symbol of hope and luck, a reminder to focus on the good and to never stop believing in the power of our wishes.

Role of Wishbones in Different Cultures and Traditions

Wishbones have been a significant part of various cultures and traditions around the world for centuries. In some cultures, they are considered a symbol of luck, while in others, they have religious importance. Here are some of the roles wishbones play in different cultures and traditions.

  • American Culture: In American culture, breaking the wishbone of a turkey or chicken during Thanksgiving dinner is a popular tradition. The person who gets the larger piece is believed to have their wish granted. Wishbones are also used in sports like football, where players break them for good luck.
  • European Culture: In European culture, wishbones are used for divination. People dry them out and place them on a pillow, and the direction they point towards indicates if they will stay single or meet their significant other soon.
  • Middle Eastern Culture: In Middle Eastern culture, wishbones are considered a religious symbol. They are used as a charm to repel evil spirits and bring good luck. Ancient Egyptians used to place wishbones on the eyes of deceased individuals as a sign of good fortune in the afterlife.

The Number 4

Interestingly, the number of prongs in a wishbone has significant cultural relevance in certain parts of the world, especially Japan and China. In these cultures, the number 4 is considered unlucky because the pronunciation of the word ‘four’ sounds similar to the word ‘death’ in their respective languages. Therefore, breaking a wishbone with four prongs is considered an unlucky sign, and people often avoid displaying anything in groups of four.

Culture Number of Prongs in a Wishbone Significance
Western Cultures 2 prongs Symbol of luck and divination
Japan and China Not 4 prongs Avoid displaying anything in groups of four as 4 is considered an unlucky number
Mexico 3 prongs Used during Day of the Dead celebrations to represent the Holy Trinity

Whether you believe in the luck or divination aspect of wishbones or not, they continue to play an essential role in various cultures and traditions around the world.

Different Meanings and Interpretations of Wishbone Symbolism

In some cultures, wishbones are believed to be a powerful symbol with a deep and meaningful history. This article explores the different meanings and interpretations behind the wishbone symbolism.

The Number 5

The number five is closely associated with the wishbone symbolism. This is because the wishbone itself has five distinct parts, each of which has its own significance.

  • The top of the wishbone symbolizes the heavens, the realm of the gods.
  • The forked middle symbolizes the earth, the realm of humans.
  • The two prongs symbolize the dichotomy between good and evil, or life and death.
  • The bottom tip symbolizes the underworld, or the realm of the dead.
  • The junction between the top and the fork symbolizes the axis mundi, or the axis upon which the universe revolves.

During ancient times, the number five was considered a sacred number because it represented the five elements of nature: earth, air, fire, water, and spirit. The wishbone, with its five parts, is thought to symbolize these elements as well as the balance and harmony between them.

Other Meanings and Interpretations

There are many other meanings and interpretations associated with the wishbone symbolism, depending on the culture and beliefs of the people who use it. Here are a few examples:

  • In ancient Rome, the wishbone was used in divination. Two people would pull on either end of the wishbone until it snapped, and the person left with the larger piece was said to have good luck.
  • In some Native American cultures, the wishbone was believed to have healing properties.
  • In Chinese culture, the forked shape of the wishbone was seen as a symbol of fertility and the ability to have many offspring.
Culture Meaning
Ancient Rome Divination and good luck
Native American Healing properties
Chinese Fertility and abundance

Overall, the wishbone symbolism holds a deep and mysterious meaning that transcends time and cultures. Whether used for good luck, healing, or fertility, the wishbone continues to captivate and intrigue people around the world.

The Role of Wishbones in Divination and Fortune Telling

The wishbone has been associated with divination and fortune telling for centuries. This tradition of using the wishbone, or furcula, can be traced back to the ancient Etruscan civilization in Italy, where they used it in religious ceremonies to predict the future. Today, many people still use the wishbone as a tool in divination and fortune telling.

The Number 6

  • In numerology, the number 6 is associated with balance and harmony. When the wishbone breaks into three pieces, the person with the larger piece is said to have good luck and balance in their life.
  • If both people break an equal piece of the wishbone, then they both will receive good luck and harmony in their lives.
  • In some cultures, the number 6 represents family and home. Breaking the wishbone with family members can bring good luck and happiness to the household.

Interpretation of the Wishbone

When using the wishbone in divination and fortune telling, the interpretation of the break is important. Here are some common interpretations:

  • The person with the larger piece will have their wish granted or experience good luck.
  • If the wishbone breaks evenly, good luck and harmony will come to both parties.
  • If the wishbone breaks into many pieces, it can be a sign of bad luck or a difficult road ahead.

Using Wishbones in Rituals

In addition to using wishbones for divination and fortune telling, they can also be incorporated into rituals and ceremonies. For example, in some cultures, a wishbone is included in a wedding bouquet to bring good luck and harmony to the marriage.

Culture Meaning
Italian The wishbone is used in religious ceremonies to predict the future.
British The wishbone is used in Christmas traditions, where two people break it and make a wish.
Chinese The wishbone is used in traditional Chinese medicine to cure illnesses and promote well-being.

Wishbones can be a fun and unique way to incorporate divination and fortune telling into your life or rituals. Whether you are breaking the wishbone with family members or including it in a wedding ceremony, the wishbone can bring good luck and harmony to any situation.

Use of Wishbones in Modern Fashion and Jewelry

The wishbone has been a popular symbol in fashion and jewelry for many years. In addition to its traditional use during Thanksgiving, the wishbone has become a staple in modern fashion as a symbol of good luck and positivity.

One of the most unique aspects of the wishbone symbol is that it is shaped like the number 7. The number 7 has deep spiritual and cultural significance in many traditions and religions around the world.

  • Seven is often associated with good luck and is considered a lucky number in many cultures.
  • Many religions link the number 7 to creation, such as in the Bible where God rests on the seventh day of creation.
  • In astronomy, there are seven traditional planets visible to the naked eye, which Ancient cultures believed was associated with the seven days of the week.

The number 7 serves to enhance the meaning and significance of the wishbone symbol in modern fashion and jewelry. Many designers incorporate the wishbone shape into their designs for its aesthetic appeal and its symbolic associations with positivity and good luck.

One popular trend in modern fashion and jewelry is the use of wishbone necklaces. These necklaces are often simple and delicate, making them a great everyday accessory that can be worn alone or layered with other necklaces. Wishbone earrings and bracelets are also popular choices for those who love the symbol but want a smaller piece of jewelry.

Design Material Description
Gold Yellow gold or rose gold wishbone jewelry adds a touch of luxury and elegance to any outfit.
Silver Sterling silver wishbone jewelry is a classic choice that pairs well with both casual and formal attire.
Diamond Diamond-encrusted wishbone jewelry adds sparkle and glamour to any outfit. This type of jewelry is often reserved for special occasions.

Whether you’re looking for a simple everyday accessory or a statement piece of jewelry for a special occasion, the wishbone symbol is a timeless and versatile symbol that can be found in modern fashion and jewelry designs.

Wishbone Tattoos: Designs and Meanings

Wishbone tattoos have become increasingly popular, not only as a symbol of good luck, but also as a design choice. The wishbone holds a significant meaning in many cultures and has been used as a symbol for centuries. Here, we will delve into the meaning behind the wishbone symbol and explore some designs and meanings behind wishbone tattoos.

The Number 8

The number eight is often associated with the wishbone symbol. This is because the shape of the wishbone, when split in half, resembles the number 8. In many cultures, the number eight is seen as a lucky number. In Chinese culture, it represents prosperity and good fortune. In Islam, it symbolizes infinity and power. In Christianity, the number eight represents new beginnings, resurrection, and salvation.

  • Some wishbone tattoo designs incorporate the number eight as part of the design.
  • Wishbone tattoos with the number eight can represent luck, prosperity, and new beginnings.
  • The number eight can also be used as a standalone tattoo, symbolizing the meanings mentioned above.

Wrap Design

The wrap design is a popular wishbone tattoo design choice. This design features a wishbone with a ribbon wrapped around it, tied in a bow. The ribbon can feature a personal message or significant dates, such as birthdays or anniversaries.

The wrap design can symbolize a wish or desire, as the ribbon represents the act of tying a wish and making it come true. This design may also signify gratitude and appreciation for what one already has in life.

Table of Meanings Behind Wishbone Tattoos

Design Meaning
Broken wishbone The idea of breaking the wishbone and making a wish is a tradition that dates back to ancient Roman times. A broken wishbone tattoo may symbolize the act of making a wish and hoping it comes true.
Feathered wishbone A feathered wishbone tattoo symbolizes freedom, independence, and a free spirit.
Heart-shaped wishbone A heart-shaped wishbone tattoo can represent the love and hope associated with making a wish.
Wishbone with flowers A wishbone with flowers can symbolize growth, renewal, and new beginnings. The flowers may also hold personal significance.

Overall, wishbone tattoos can hold a multitude of meanings and designs, making them a versatile and unique option for tattoo enthusiasts. Whether one chooses to incorporate the number eight or the wrap design, the symbolism behind the wishbone is a symbol of hope, gratitude, and new beginnings.

Evolution of the Wishbone Symbol over Time

Throughout history, the wishbone symbol has represented various meanings depending on the culture and time period. One of the most prevalent uses of the wishbone symbol is in the context of Thanksgiving Day in the United States, where it symbolizes good luck and a wish for a prosperous future.

However, the wishbone symbol has a much richer history and has been used in various ways throughout the ages. Here are some of the notable points in the evolution of the wishbone symbol:

  • The Etruscans: The origin of the wishbone symbol can be traced back to the Etruscans, who believed that chickens had prophetic powers. They would take the breastbone of a chicken and use it for divination, believing that the bone would reveal the future. As a result, the bone was seen as a symbol of good luck and fortune.
  • The Romans: The tradition of using the wishbone for divination was passed down to the Romans, who would dry and break the wishbone of a chicken to make a wish. The person with the larger piece of the bone was believed to have their wish granted.
  • The Middle Ages: During the Middle Ages, the wishbone was used as a symbol of good luck and protection. It was often incorporated into talismans and amulets, which were worn to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune.

Today, the wishbone symbol continues to be used in popular culture, often representing a wish for good luck and a prosperous future. It can be found on various items such as jewelry, home decor, and even clothing.

Overall, the wishbone symbol has evolved over time, reflecting the beliefs and values of each culture that has used it. Despite its varied meanings, it remains a symbol of hope and good fortune, reminding us of the power of positivity and the importance of having an optimistic outlook on life.

Wishbone Crafts and DIY Projects

Wishbones have been a popular symbol for centuries, representing good luck and success. In recent years, wishbone crafts and DIY projects have become increasingly popular as people strive to bring this symbol into their homes and lives in a tangible way.

  • Wishbone Jewelry: From delicate wishbone necklaces to chunky wishbone rings, there are countless ways to incorporate this symbol into your jewelry collection. Some crafters even create their own wishbone jewelry using wire and pliers.
  • Wishbone Home Decor: Wishbones can also be incorporated into home decor, whether through wall art, tablescapes, or decorative objects. Many crafters create their own wishbone decor using materials like wood, metal, or even colorful yarn.
  • Wishbone Crafts for Kids: Wishbones make a fun and easy craft project for kids, as they can be made using simple materials like paper, pipe cleaners, or even playdough. This is a great way to introduce children to the symbolism of the wishbone and encourage them to make their own wishes.

10. DIY Wishbone Christmas Ornament

If you’re looking for a festive way to incorporate wishbones into your holiday decor, consider making your own DIY wishbone Christmas ornament. This simple project requires just a few materials and can be customized to match your existing decor.


  • Small wishbone charm
  • Thin wire
  • Ribbon or string
  • Scissors


Step Action
1 Cut a length of wire, approximately 6 inches long.
2 Thread the wire through the wishbone charm, leaving equal lengths of wire on either side of the charm.
3 Bend the wire until it forms a loop, twisting the excess wire around the base of the loop to secure it in place.
4 Cut a length of ribbon or string, approximately 6 inches long.
5 Thread the ribbon or string through the wire loop, creating a hanger for your ornament.
6 Tie a knot in the ribbon or string to secure it in place, trimming any excess ribbon or string.

With just a few simple steps, you can create a beautiful and meaningful wishbone ornament to hang on your Christmas tree or give as a gift to a loved one. This is just one example of the countless wishbone crafts and DIY projects out there, so don’t be afraid to get creative and see where your imagination takes you.

FAQs About What Does Wishbone Symbolize

Q: What does wishbone symbolize?

A: Wishbone is a symbol of luck, good fortune and optimism.

Q: What is a wishbone?

A: Wishbone is a forked bone found in the breast of a turkey or a chicken, believed to bring good luck when pulled apart by two people.

Q: What is the origin of the wishbone tradition?

A: Wishbone tradition dates back to the Etruscans, who believed that fowl had oracle-like abilities, and that the clavicle bone (wishbone) contained these powers.

Q: How do you make a wish on a wishbone?

A: Two people take hold of the wishbone, and make a wish. Then they pull the wishbone apart, and whoever gets the larger piece will have their wish granted.

Q: Can you use anything other than a wishbone to make a wish?

A: Yes, you can use any forked branch or twig to make a wish.

Q: Can you buy wishbones that have not been removed from a bird?

A: Yes, you can buy artificial wishbones that look like real wishbones that have not been removed from a bird.

Q: What happens if the wishbone breaks into more than two pieces?

A: In the event that the wishbone breaks into more than two pieces, the wish is not considered valid.

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