Every year around Thanksgiving I think about the wishbone tradition. My dad always made a big deal about it, and my sister and I would always try to be the one who got the long end of the wishbone. That was always a special time for us and even though we had no idea what the tradition was all about, it was fun to have our mom and dad laugh as we tried to strategically break the wishbone in two.
We always thought that this was just our family tradition, but did you know that the tradition of breaking a wishbone dates back for over 2,400 years? During that era, the Etruscan people believed that fowl could predict the future. Each day the hen’s squawking would announce that she was laying an egg and the dawning of a new day was then broadcast by the early morning crowing of the rooster. The Etruscan people also believed that the way chicken’s selected the grain they ate was prophetic. They drew a circle in the dirt and divided it into twenty wedges; each represented a letter in the Etruscan alphabet. A piece of grain would be placed in each wedge. As the hen ate, a scribe would list the order of the letters the hen pecked and the letter order would be used by the high priest to answer questions. If a chicken was killed, the collarbone was thought to be sacred, thus it was not touched and was left to dry in the sun. The people gathered around to hold the unbroken bone and made a wish in hopes of it bringing them good luck. The “wishbone tradition” was derived from this early practice.
The Roman’s embraced many of the Etruscan customs. The people of Rome began fighting over the unbroken bones of chickens because they wanted good fortune. It was said that the phases, “I need a lucky break,” or “I never get a break,” came from the looser in the tug of collarbone contest. This quickly spread throughout England, and the English people referred to the breaking of the bones as “merry-thoughts.”
When the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, they brought the custom of breaking the wishbone with them. As they looked around at their new surroundings in the woods of North America, there were no chickens, but turkeys were abundant. They changed the custom from the chicken to the turkey.
This custom is certainly alive and well with families like mine all across the country. Families gather around the Thanksgiving table each year and watch as dad very skillfully removes the U- shaped wishbone. Unlike our forefather’s the tradition is far too exciting to let the wishbone dry out. One family member is usually charged with detailing the rules of the wishbone break to the chosen contestants. The anticipation builds and the breaking of the wishbone contest begins. The declaration of the lucky one is decided by who ends up with the largest part of the bone. The winner is awarded with the anticipation of good luck for the future.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if our future could be shaped by the lucky break of the wish bone? We all know that is not true, but what shapes our future is surrounding ourselves with people that will help guide and assist us in making those hard decisions. Much like the father that carefully carves out the wishbone each year, you as estate planning attorneys, help families carve out and secure your clients financial future and protect their legacy. Legacy Safeguard is proud to be a part of team assisting families in their time of need and insuring their memories and traditions are passed on to future generations. Getting the “lucky break” is finding the right support system that can help secure your family legacy, and we are thankful that we can have some small part in that at Legacy Safeguard.
Bryan W. Adams is President & CEO of Premier Planning, LLC and Founder of Legacy Safeguard. Bryan is considered one of the nations’ leading experts on final expense planning, and he frequently speaks throughout the country about the importance of assisting clients to gain peace of mind through advanced funeral funding.
Bryan’s passion for helping families prepare for their final expenses came from being raised in the funeral business. His family still owns and operates several funeral homes, and he is constantly amazed at how unprepared families are when a death occurs. Bryan has worked tirelessly to help Americans plan for the inevitable and lessen the burden on their loved ones.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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