What was game night like during medieval times?

People all across the world love to enjoy a games night every now and then, in fact, it seems that people have enjoyed games nights for generations, and this begs the question, what will games nights be like during ancient times?  People have been playing games, competitively and for fun, as early as 3500 BC. One of the times when these games were most popular was the medieval period. They played board games, outdoor games on festival days, and everything in between.  Here are some of the more popular ones.

Outdoor fun

When the weather was good outside children would often play many games that we play today. They would play hide and seek, tag, hopscotch and, a very popular game in English history called ‘ring around the Rosie’. This game originated roughly in London at about  1665, during the bubonic plague, but there are some accounts that go as far back as the 1300s. It is said that the symptoms of the plague included a red rosy rash that created a shape on the skin. In order to treat the rashes, people would place sweet-smelling herbs into their pockets and pouches as they believed disease was transmitted through bad smells. The original rhyme makes mention of wiping one’s nose with a tissue, this refers to the violent sneezing which was another symptom of the plague. In order to play the game players would hold hands in a circle and sing the lyrics to “Ring around the Rosie” until they had finished the song.

What was game night like during medieval times?

Practical activities 

Many activities that were considered fun during a time were often also very practical. If you happened to live close to a stream or lake or the sea, you may have gone fishing from time to time as this can be relaxing and a fun pastime, and if you’re really good you might even catch yourself some dinner. Swimming was also a popular pastime as it was a great way to cool down during the hot summer days but was also fun, provided exercise, and was an easy way to clean up after a hard day’s work. Children would also spend much of their time seeing how long they could juggle for or many other physical exercises such as running races and horse riding, if your family happened to own one.

Strategy games

For those who did not wish to run around and play outdoors, there were many games of strategy. Some of these games are still around today like tic-tac-toe, checkers (or draughts), and chess, but also many others they have since dwindled and popularity, like Nim. Nim was played by setting up five lines of men from 5 to 1. Two players would then take alternate turns to remove a line or plot of a line with the winner or loser being the last player to remove a man. This game was one of the first to incorporate mathematical theory into its gameplay.

What was game night like during medieval times?

Holiday events

Post-game connectivities should be freely played almost any day of the year, but some are reserved for specific celebrations. One of which was called the King of the Bean.  The king of the Bean was played during the Christmas season in which a single small bean would be baked inside a cake or bread, and the person who founded in their portion would be crowned the king or queen of the holiday feast. This celebration of Christmas was done specifically on the 12 night of the celebration. This game was then played in France and was known as The King’s Cake, and can even be seen in the south of America with Mardi Gras.

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