Sometimes, kids can crack myths as easily as snapping a wishbone in two.

While having our Yuletide festivities in traditional Japanese, that is, with the Christmas chicken meal, I thought I’d put in a chicken activity with the kids.

Christmas and chicken: totally inseparable in Japan

“So, who can tell me what this is?”

Iva, Uri, and Lexis – their visiting friend from Cambodia – were suddenly hushed, curious of the wishbone (or furcula, as I would later learn, thanks to HowStuffWorks) that I was holding.

The wishbone game: perfect for the Japanese Christmas experience

“What letter does it look like?” I asked anew, so they would examine the chicken bone a little bit further.

“A ‘V’,” Uri popped, to which I said “good.”

“A ‘Y’,” Lexis blurted out. “Yes, it can also be a ‘Y’ with this little extension here,” I affirmed her.

“Is it a bone?” Iva asked. “It actually is,” I confirmed, “from the chicken we are eating.”

“But, this is no ordinary bone, it is called a wishbone,” I said, and continued with how the wishing mechanics supposedly worked.

“So, you make your wish, pull on the wishbone, and whoever gets the bigger piece gets his/her wish granted. Or both get their wishes if the wishbone splits in half,” I explained.

Then Iva posed her dilemma, a discovery that seems pretty much like her discovering that Santa Claus at their youchien was just Eno Sensei in costume.

“But, what if you both make the same wish, and the wishbone does not split in half?” Iva interrupted.

“Good thinking, Iva, but it’s just a game,” I said, but I thought to myself, “Right, what of the chicken oracle, then? Is wishing the same wish an exception, since it can yield conflicting results?”

Actually, this dilemma would have really helped the Estruscans, to which the wishbone tradition is attributed to, and later the Romans who also adopted it, deal with their superstitions about our feathered staple food.

Even ancient civilizations can learn from kids. Believe it.

Personally, the experience has taught me to provide playful and thoughtful avenues for our growing kids to test concepts – not necessarily limited to myths, legends and superstitions – in order for them to come to a truth about stuff. It will be crucial in helping them navigate through the relativistic, post-truth culture that we are living in right now, I’m sure.

Now, back to the wishbone game.

Being the older ones at six, Iva and Lexis got to do the wishbone game. Uri was reduced to a spectator, but not to eventual winner, Lexis. It turns out, her wish was for Uri: that he will also get a scooter, just like what her sister got for Christmas. Such sweetness.

As for these kids, “two’s a company, and so can three.”

But like the broken wishbone, Uri’s heart broke upon realizing that he would have to wait for the next whole chicken to get his crack at the wishbone game. So sorry, buddy, I should thought of a variation to accommodate you then and there, not just a pitiful, “you’ll get your turn next time.”

The best part is we get to have more of Mommy’s grilled chicken, which I’m proud to say is really “finger-lickin’ good.”

Someday, Uri will get a crack at the wishbone game.
“A friend loves at all times.”


Ronca, D. Why are wishbones supposed to be lucky?