Sunday, October 26, 2008

HISTORY of the wishbone

If you believe your wish will come true when you win the break in a
wishbone contest, then you're following in the footsteps of civilizations
dating back to the Etruscans, 322 B.C. And -- it started with a hen, not a

In those days, when a man wanted an egg he waited for the hen to announce
the coming of her product. This made the animal mystical in that it could
tell the future -- and that led to what became known as the "hen oracles."

If you lived back then, and wanted to receive an answer to an important
question from these oracles, you would draw a circle on the ground and divide
it into the twenty-four letters of the alphabet. Grains of corn were placed
in each section, and the cock or hen was led into the circle and then set
free. It was believed that the fowl would spell out words or symbols by
picking up kernels of corn from the different sections. For example, the
first letter of a future husband's name would be the first kernel of corn
picked. After writing the message, the fowl was sacrificed to a special deity
and its collarbone was hung out to dry.

Then, you'd get to make a wish on the bone. Then two other people got a
chance to make a wish by snapping the dried bone in the same way we do now,
with each one pulling on an end. The person with the larger end of the bone
got the wish -- and it became known as a "lucky break."

The Romans brought the wishbone tradition with them when they conquered
England, and that's how we got it.

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