06 January 2010

British Culture : The Haxey Hood Game

"Hoose agen hoose, toon agen toon, if a man meets a man nok 'im doon, but doant 'ot 'im"

(This translates as: House against House, Town against Town, if a man meets a man, knock him down but don’t hurt him.)

Dating back to the year 1298AD, but with its origins in Celtic sacrificial rites, The Haxey Hood Game is a northern tradition, very similar to a rough form of rugby football.

The game is held on 6 January and involves the villagers of Haxey, Westwoodside (North Lincolnshire)  and the surrounding areas. Customarily the game would involve 'smoking the fool' which entails setting fire to a pile of straw and paper around the village fool, however as it evolved into a more and more dangerous tradition, culminating in trouble reviving the fool, it was eventually banned in the 1850s.

The first part of this rough and tumble game involves throwing twelve sack hoods into the air, with the aim of getting these hoods to either of the two pubs in Haxey or to the pub in Westwoodside without being stopped.

In the late afternoon of 6 January, a leather hood is thrown into the air and scrums of men attempt to get the hood to their favourite pub. Managing to get the hood to the pub can take several hours as the teams of men fight and push to achieve their goal. The pub receiving the hood keeps it until the following year's Haxey Hood Game.

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