A Romantic Way of Breaking a Wishbone

by Weam Namou

Ayad and Ahlam

I paid my cousin a visit yesterday to discuss a family drama that we’re trying to resolve. Because the drama is Arab style – you know, where people can get louder and louder and louder and then hardly anyone is hearing anyone else – it needed one’s full presence and concentration, along with tea and food to make it all the more spicy, not that it needed any spices.

I brought a pizza for the kids’ lunch and told my cousin, “I can’t stay more than an hour!” Three hours later, my daughter came up to me and said, “Mom, when are we going home?”

“Not before we eat!” I said, smelling the aroma of turkey, roasted almonds and raisins, saffron rice, and having gotten a peek at the pumpkin pie in the kitchen.

Although I’d already enjoyed two thanksgiving dinners earlier in the week, I couldn’t resist yet another one. Plus my cousin insisted which made it easier to pull my sleeves up and dig in.

The most amusing part of the evening (aside from the drama, which has now really become routine) was when my cousin and her husband tried to break the turkey wishbone. Although her husband cheated, using his teeth to break the bone, she won. She was proud of herself, and rightfully so. We all had a good laugh and during dinner, I noticed the couple was on more romantic terms. Well, more specifically, my cousin paid him an unexpected compliment and he was flattered!

The tradition of breaking the wishbone comes from Europe, and is thousands of years older. As far as historians and archaeologists can tell, this custom can be traced as far back as the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization. It was brought to North America by the English who got it from the Romans. But it was spread to other parts of the world as my family and I engaged in the breaking of the wishbone even in Iraq.

The Etruscans were really into their chicken, and believed that the bird could predict the future. I predict my cousin and her husband will be together for life, as long as they continue to be playful at heart.