Back around the turn of the last century, in the days before the National Weather Service, the so-called goose bone method was a famous weather-forecasting technique.
Now, many of us have broken the dried “wishbone” with another person. The person who gets the “long half” of the bone gets to make their wish. Some of us may even recall that old-fashioned pastime of making wishbone necklaces.
To use the wishbone as a weather predictor, here’s how it worked:
Around Thanksgiving, Grandma would cook a freshly killed goose. She would roast it, carve it, and serve it, always being careful not to cut the breastbone from the carcass.
After the goose had been eaten, she would carefully remove the breastbone and cut away all the meat and fat left clinging to it. Grandpa would take the bone and put it on a shelf to dry, keeping an eye out for the coloration that would follow. If the bone turned blue, black, or purple, a cold winter lay ahead.
- White indicated a mild winter.
- Purple tips were a sure sign of a cold spring.
- A blue color branching out toward the edge of the bone, meant open weather until New Year’s Day.
- If the bone was a dark color, or blue all over, the prediction was for a real bad winter.
That’s it. And there was even an explanation. An overall dark color meant that the bird had absorbed a lot of oil, which acted as a natural protection against the cold. The darker the blue coloring, the tougher the winter ahead would probably be.