Do you pull up with a twist or maybe just yank it to the side?
There is probably a knack to getting the big bit of the wishbone so you can make your wish and do you have yours ready to make if you win or do you wait to see if you win then think about it when the pressure is on to come up with a worthwhile wish? Or maybe you leave the forked bone to dry before pulling it, making it an easier cleaner break rather than get greasy fingers?
Pulling a wishbone is no simple thing, but where did this age-old custom originate and why?
Wars were fought, cities built and leaders appointed all on the say-so of the ancient Etruscan priests whose words and prophecies commanded absolute respect and honour. Even the Romans paid homage to their religion and superstitions that Man's destiny was decided upon by the behaviour of their deities including lightning, the flight pattern of birds and the internal organs of sacrifices.
And there was one particular bird that this highly regarded civilisation venerated above all others: the humble chicken.
They would scatter food in front of the feathered oracle and if the hen refused to leave its perch to peck, that was a bad omen. Or where a more complicated resolution was sought, they would set up a Ouija board and put grain on each letter and record the order in which the hen ate, thus spelling out a name or other message.
This alectryomancy or chicken divination was carried out by a select few and could alter a battle strategy or even the construction of an entire city.
Sadly, for the bird it was most likely his last meal as it would then be sacrificed and its innards laid out in search of further mysterious messages, with the bones being left to dry.
And as the wishbone, or furcula (Latin for ‘little fork’) is the fusion of the two clavicles that helps strengthen the thoracic skeleton giving the bird its flying power, because the priests looked for messages in a bird's flight-plan, they were especially eager to preserve the wishbone.
When In Rome ... Britain Or American
The Etruscans were so highly thought of that the Romans adopted many of their beliefs and practices, including honouring the wishbone; although not just in chickens but other birds such as the goose. They would leave the bone in the sun to dry and whatever colour it turned would be an indicator of how bad the winter was going to be: dark for severe and a lighter colour for a mild winter.
People passing by the bone would brush it for luck and this led to the practice of two people holding an end each, both hoping to make a wish, each pulling to see who ended up with the biggest bit, the winner getting their wish. If the bone split precisely in half with each getting an equal portion, then were both granted their wish.
Sadly, for the Etruscan people, very little evidence of their existence was preserved as Christianity swept away all pagan gods along with their practices, but the tradition of pulling the furcula continued to be observed by the Romans and they duly passed the tradition onto the British and we in turn took it across to America.
However, the term 'wishbone' was only established in the mid-1800s in America up to which time it had been called a 'merrythought'. We liked the name so much we adopted it.
So whether it's a merrythought or a wishbone, I'm all for supporting our ancient civilisations, I just need to improve my pulling technique!