Persistant Ancient Pagan Traditions


Where is my mind?
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Middlesbrough, UK
I have been thinking about how paganism still shows through our society, even after thousands of years of christianity.

Does everyone know about pulling the wish bone?
(no, that's not a euphamism)

OK, I was at my parents place for lunch on Sunday. Roast Chicken. mmmmmm.

After the meal, I was in the kitchen, washing up with my mum when she picked up the 'wish bone' with her little finger and held it out to me. I duly made a wish, wrapped my own little finger around the other end of the bone and pulled it. The larger part broke off on my side, so naturally, my wish will come true.

It occurred to me that that was a really wierd thing to do. But we have done that after every roast chicken we have ever eaten as a family.

Does anyone know the meaning of this ritual?

Can anyone think of any similar pagan-esc rituals still common in this western europe?

It's fascinating stuff when you think about it.

Namaste @5

Hanging a wreath on your door, bringing in a tree, celebrations at the solstice and equinoxes...all pagan things as I see it, and adopted by Christianity, (christmas and easter)

now your wishbone seems to be an American term, prior it was called a Merrythought...and the winner the one with the 'lucky break' would be the first to marry...

I'm confused as to how this has pagan origins and what you mean by paganesque....

please to enlighten
A lot of wishing rituals and superstitions have their basis in non-Christian religious practices. For instance, it still happens in many places that sacred trees or holy wells have little offerings left there with the idea that the genius loci or god or goddess of that tree or spring would grant a wish. The whole "wishing well" thing is a clear descendant of this.

In the fascinating book "The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation" edited by Hans Dieter Betz there are lots of examples of spells where animals were sacrificed (often by ritual drowning in water, wine, or milk) in order that the spirit of the sacrificed animal could perform a task or fulfill a wish for the spellcaster. I wonder if the wishbone ritual is a variation of this -- making a wish that the spirit of the sacrificed bird will either fulfill itself, or else will carry to the invisible realms in the hopes that it can be fulfilled.
Alternatively, it could be a form of divination - breaking the bones instead of casting them. It's also hard to tell the difference between a superstition and a religious practice, especially in the case where religious practices weren't documented - not to mention distinguishing religion & superstition isn't that easy at the best of times :)