The Lucky Chicken Bone: what is its history?

Maybe you didn't know it, but there is a chicken bone that allows you to make a wish.

With its strange shape, similar to a two-pronged fork, this bone is in fact the fusion of the bird's clavicles, hence its scientific name "furcula". However, you will find it in common language under the names of wishbone, “wish bone”, or even “wish bone”.

Yes, as popular belief has it, this furcula contains certain… powers. In particular, it is customary to break it, two people each holding one of the ends. The one of the two participants who obtains the largest piece then has the right to make a wish.

It goes without saying that it will definitely come true, we are still talking here about a real lucky chicken bone!

Aside from this amusing tradition, what do we really know about this bone of wishes?

Do we know its history?

We're going to check all of this together today!

Contents :

A tradition originating from the Etruscans

When the chicken bone arrived among the Romans…

…then on our plates

How to win the wish bone game?

Ruins of a temple of the Etruscan civilization

A tradition originating from the Etruscans

Historians believe that this idea of ​​a chicken bone bringing good luck dates back to the Etruscans, an ancient civilization in northern Italy.

Apparently, chicken occupied a large place in their diet, but not only that…

Etruscan priests and diviners often used this animal during their rituals. It was common for a chicken to be sacrificed in honor of the deities or for its bones to be used, once thrown into the fire, to predict the future.

The Etruscans had given chicken a large place in their culture, it is clear, but they did not know the tradition of breaking the bone of wishes.

For them, it was necessary to keep the bone whole in which case its powers would disappear...

Very clearly, this type of necklace would have been very appreciated in this culture.

It was in fact when they crossed paths with the Romans that this tradition evolved.

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When the chicken bone arrived among the Romans…

Rome had the particularity of being a city very open to foreign cultures. When they conquered a city or kingdom, they often incorporated the gods and folklore of its inhabitants.

All the legends surrounding the chicken bone were therefore taken up by the Romans.

However, chickens were relatively rare in Rome, and furcula were therefore sold at a high price. The people then came up with the idea of ​​breaking the bone into two parts so that more people could benefit from the mysterious abilities.

When there was chicken on the menu for a meal with family or friends, this lucky bone was broken at the end, with each participant making a wish.

Initially, it was said that the two individuals would see their dream come true. Secondly, it was only the one who “won” the biggest piece who was entitled to this privilege.

In short, the chicken bone tradition as we know it was born.

If you are interested in the history and culture of ancient civilizations, you should enjoy our associated collection of lucky charms.

Roast chicken on a table set for a family meal

…then on our plates

By traveling (or rather by subjugating other peoples), the Romans brought this tradition with them almost everywhere in Europe.

It was mainly in Gaul and Brittany that this practice met with the greatest success.

Centuries later, English colonists took it with them when they settled in the New World, particularly North America.

Today, it is in the United States that this passion for the lucky chicken bone is the most important. Every year on Thanksgiving, thousands and thousands of family bones are broken… and wishes come true.

All this shows us one thing: whether we believe it or not, certain customs can spread from culture to culture, traveling hundreds of kilometers and millennia without ever dying out.

Young boy celebrating his victory in the wishing bone game

How to win the wish bone game?

Whether the chicken bone grants the right to make a wish or not, it remains undeniable that this persistence commands respect.

So, the next time you eat a nice chicken with your loved ones, don't forget to offer to break the bone!

Speaking of which, did you know that there are certain techniques for winning at this game?

First of all, you have to find the bone! (It seems obvious, it’s true.)

If you didn't know, the furcula is located right between the neck and the chest of a bird.

Then, ideally the bone must be dried so that it breaks properly. You can therefore remove it from the chicken at the start of the meal and place it on a radiator or in the oven while still hot.

Now let's move on to the technical details. The physics behind breaking the bone is actually quite simple.

To get the largest piece, you will generally just need to hold your part “higher” than your opponent, whether your finger is closer to the center of the bone.

Thus, by a simple lever action, the tension will be much greater on his side than on yours, thus causing his failure... and your success.

Let's be clear, this technique is not infallible, the breaking of the chicken bone of wishes depends on a whole bunch of different factors

To go further and learn more about this strange bone, here is the Wikipedia page dedicated to the furcula.

Lucky charm featured in this article

Necklace with a wish bone

Necklace with a wish bone

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author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.