Baste the Bear

Many Strange Games' readers write to me and say, "Montegue, this year my son wants a medieval themed birthday party. Have you any suggestions for games to play?" To which I usually reply, "Baste the Bear".
Also known as Bear Keeper, Baste the Bear reached its peak of popularity in medieval times and is even featured in Brueghel's painting 'Children's Games'. One player is the bear and is tied at the waist with a rope and then gets down on his knees. The bear-keeper holds the bear on the rope and in his other hand holds a rolled up newspaper. All the other players then taunt the bear, attempting to get close enough to slap or punch him. It is the job of the bear and bear-keeper to fight back. If the bear catches a player or if the bear-keeper manages a direct hit with his newspaper then roles reverse and that player becomes the new bear.

Obviously some roles in this game are better than others.

strange games no:127

Medieval and Modern Egg Throwing

Possibly the most ancient use of an egg for fun is Medieval Egg Throwing. Played in churches of the time, at Easter, the priest would throw a hard boiled egg to a choirboy who would then proceed to throw it to another and so on. A kind of medieval version of Hot Potato. Whoever had the egg in their hands when the church bell rang the hour was the victor and for his prize got to keep the egg.
Over the centuries the game of egg throwing has developed dramatically. This coming Sunday the World Championships of Egg Throwing are once again held in Thorpe Latimer, Lincolnshire. The main competitions are the pairs throw, each player gets 1 meter further away after each successful throw of the egg, and the egg relay: 11 players, 12 eggs, 100 meters.

web: world egg throwing federation
web: eric shackles e-book on egg-throwing
web: flash egg throwing game at Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych

Shin Kicking at the Cotswold Olimpicks

The Japanese have Judo. The Chinese have Kung Fu. In Gloustershire they kick shins.
The British Shin Kicking Championships take place in Chipping Campden annually in June as part of the Cotswold Olimpick Games. Dress rules are very simple and elegant: competitors wear long trousers with straw padding attached to their shins underneath (otherwise it would be plain crazy). White shepherds' smocks complete the fighting costume. Each player then holds onto his opponents shoulder's and the kicking begins.
Rules dictate that no kicks are allowed above knee level and whilst kicking each player must try to wrestle his opponent to the ground. This must be achieved whilst in the process of kicking otherwise it is not a valid wrestle down.

The Cotswold games were founded in 1612 by Robert Dover and as well as shin kicking, feature standing jumps, hammer throwing and the excellently titled Spurning the Barre, a form of caber tossing.

strange games no: 125
web: cotswold olympic games - official site

Greased Watermelon Polo

The humble watermelon seems to be quite prominent in the world of strange games; if you are not chopping one in half, strapping the halves to your feet and skiing (watermelon skiing) then you could always headbut them in half (watermelon headbutting) or spit the seeds (watermelon seed spitting). In Greased Water Melon Polo, however, all you have to do is smear one totally and liberally in Vaseline and throw it into your swimming pool. Then two teams jump in and try to wrestle it, using any means possible, to their end of the pool.

strange games no:124

national watermelon promotion board
web: square watermelon stuns Japanese shoppers
web: Chinese watermelon art - amazing art and sculpture with the fruit!
web: watermelon slim's blues band
web:vampire pumpkins and watermelon folklore - wikipedia entry

Willaston World Worm Charming Championships

They may be able to charm snakes to come out of a basket in India but can they charm 511 out in half an hour. And can they do this under the watchful eyes of Fred the Weatherman. I doubt it.
The International World Worm Charming Championship takes place this year on June 30th in the playing fields of Willaston County Primary School – watched by a large crowd of people and thousands of fascinated local birds. Competitors come from around the world to challenge the highly skilled local worm charmers who usually win.
Rules are simple – teams of up to three in number are randomly allocated a 3 by 3 meter plot of turf. They are not allowed to water the ground but must charm the worms out in half an hour using only music and vibrations. The most common and productive method is to insert a garden fork into the ground and then vibrate it either by hand or by bowing it (a procedure known as ‘twanging’). Unsuccessful methods include singing U2 songs and playing the bongos, both methods drive the worms further underground. If a competitor does not want to handle any emerging worms themselves then they can appoint a second known as a ‘gillie’.
There are prizes for the most charmed and also for the heaviest single specimen (6.6 grams was the largest recorded in 1987). The world record for the the greatest number is 511.