The Merrythought

Date: Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Time: Noon

Status: The Merrythought (Making a Wish)

Info:  There’s two wishbones sitting on the counter and they’ve been there for a while.  We all know what we want – so there’s really no reason to go through the motions with the wishbone if we’re all wishing for the same thing.  Is there?  So I did some research.  I do a lot of that these days … here on the weekends the research is less breast cancer and more on the unusual, so while aligned with the unusual I present to you a few things I’m sure you thought you knew about …


The wishbone is the third member of the great Euro-American lucky charm triumvirate — the other two being the horseshoe and the four-leaf clover. Sometimes called the “merrythought” in the British Isles, the wishbone is a bone overlying the breastbone of fowl, but most especially the chicken and the turkey. It is the custom to save this bone intact when carving the bird at dinner and to dry it over the stove or by the fire (or, sometimes, to dry it for three days in the air, three being a fortuitous magical number) until it is brittle.

Once the merrythought is dry, it is given to two people (usually children), who pull it apart until it cracks and breaks, each one making a wish while doing so. The person who gets the “long half” of the wishbone will have his or her wish “come true.” If the wishbone breaks evenly, both parties get their wishes. In some families it is said that the wish will only come true if it is not revealed to anyone. (The belief that a wish must be kept secret to ensure its fulfillment also occurs in “first star” and birthday candle wishing rituals).

In its intact form, the wishbone itself does not confer good luck, but it holds the promise of luck to the one who gets the longer half. Because of its association with conviviality and festive dinners, the wishbone has a long history of use in holiday cards. This postcard, dating from the postcard mania period of 1906-1918, is one of many in my collection that shows a merrythought with holly as a Christmas or New Year party amulet. The wishbone is found on numerous Good Luck postcards of the era.

In the 1930s, the wishbone was a common image on North American good luck coins and one could even buy little gold or silver wishbone charms; but by the 1990s it, like that other “dead animal part,” the rabbit foot, had fallen out of favour with the makers of lucky amulets.

See there was no ESPN in the ’30’s to keep the family interested in more global things like the Celtics/Lakers game being played right now … Bonnie is doing something she loves more than most things; she’s painting touch-ups in the master bathroom we just finished refurnishing/refinishing.

Keep her close … ML just touched down in NYC and the text test to Bonnie’s Boosters worked without issues yesterday.

The weekend is about to close.  We have an ultrasound scheduled for tomorrow (right breast) – once the radiologists do their thing we’ll have surgery scheduled and a plan for both breasts should anything unusual come out of the ultrasound tomorrow.

Welcome aboard greetings go all the way to New Britain, CT … home of Margie and Betsy (and their respective spouses; Ronnie and Teddy).  The wonders of facebook never cease to amaze me.




One thought on “The Merrythought

  1. OMG, I have been searching for Bonnie and it was a God Send she got in touch with Betsy via facebook. I am not on fb, but will call Bon. My prayers are with her today, hoping it’s positive news. Stay strong. LOVE and HUGS

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