Hearthbroom, rope race, the ogre and other Christmas games!

I think these days most people would think of board games as games to be played at Christmas – and they are often a gift to be shared! As children we had the usual, draughts, dominoes, Monopoly, Scrabble, Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, but by the time my children arrived there was a far wider range, including Numba-Rumba, Rummikub, Game of Life and Continuo. These were obviously all sedentary and not the sort of Christmas games people played in the past which were much more active; party games were usually only for children, but in my 1933 Atora  Book of Olde Time Christmas Customs, Games and Recipes, there are thirty-five games to play… although I think these days many people would really not be that interested in any of them! Before TV, computers, films, and electronic items such as Playstations, Xboxes and the Wii, people really did have to make their own entertainment.

Here is a selection from the little book which I think would only now be played by children, and quite young children!

  • balloon race – each player has a balloon and a stick and the winner is whoever pats the balloon a cross the room without it touching the ground…
  • shouting proverbs – everyone except one who is outside is given a word from a proverb, when the outside person comes in everyone shouts out their word…
  • the clock – a person from each of two teams is blindfolded and has to find a hidden clock by listening for it ticking…
  • guessing games… guess the weight of a parcel,the number of peas in a bottle, the length of a piece of tape hanging down a wall…

… and the games I mentioned in the title:

  • hearthbroom – a hearthbroom or a rug rolled up and tied in the middle with string is set up in the middle of the room. The players join hands, and do their best to pull each other over the broom. When one knocks it down, he or she is out of the game.
  • rope race – the players are divided into sides, with an equal length of rope knotted into a circle for each side. Sufficient is required to pass over the shoulders. On the word “Go,” the first player passes the rope over his head and shoulders down to the ground. It is picked up by the next player, who does the same, and so on down the line and back again. The side which does it in the shortest time of course wins.
  • the ogre – two players are chosen, one is the Ogre, and the other is the Captive Maiden. The house is plunged in darkness, and the Ogre leads the Captive Maiden away and hides her. After an interval, the other players set out to try and find the Maiden and rescue her. The Ogre, however,  lies in wait for them, and slays each one he can catch by a touch. During the game, the ogre can move about as much as he likes, but the Captive must remain still.

This last game sounds an ideal set up for a murder mystery of the Agatha Christie variety… but who would be m=the victim, the Ogre or the Maiden, or one of the rescuers!

 

 

 

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