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HISTORY LIVES: Thanksgiving Goose


Throughout the 1800s and into the early 1900, the area around North Broad Street in Doylestown was called Germany or German Hill. A large number of German immigrants had settled there and German was the predominant language spoken. In Doylestown’s Germany, the goose was the traditional bird for the Thanksgiving table. (Goose is all dark meat, with a flavor often compared to rich, rare roast beef rather than to other fowl.)

The traditional Thanksgiving goose was also important in foretelling the weather. The breastbone or wishbone would be taken from a goose that had been hatched the previous spring, and from the coloration and the markings on the bone the weather could be predicted for the coming winter. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac:

• 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 really bad winter.

There is a logical explanation — sort of — an overall dark color meant that the bird had absorbed a lot of oil during growth which acted as a natural protection against the coming cold winter. Sadly, goose bone prophecy seems to have become a lost art; but goose is still available to roast for the Thanksgiving table.

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