Haxey Hood

March 01, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

In Britain we have many strange and unusual historical events and the village I live in is host to one such event, the Haxey Hood.  This is held on the 6th of January every year (unless, as this year it falls on a Sunday, in which case it is held on the Saturday) and is said to date back over 600 years.  The exact origins of the "game" are disputed and unclear, but it is essentially a competition between four pubs, three from Haxey and one from Westwoodside which is the neighbouring village.

There are several official roles involved in the Hood, The Lord, The Fool, The Chief Boggin and several Boggins.  On the day of the Hood the officials visit each of the pubs, singing traditional songs and of course sampling a drink or two.  The Fool has his face painted in the first pub and they finish at the Duke William in Haxey, the closest to the Hood Field where the game takes place.

From the Duke William they head to a stone outside the church where the Fool makes a speech detailing the rules of the game.  This is made more difficult by a bail of straw being set on fire at the base of the stone and is called the smoking of the fool.  The speech finishes with the traditional chant of "Hoose agen Hoose, Toon agen Toon, if a man meets a man, knock 'im doon, But do 'ant 'ot 'im!"

After the smoking of the fool everyone heads to the Hood Field for the first game with "sack hoods".  This is for the children (who get the day off school!).  Rolled sacks are thrown and the idea is to get off the field without being caught.  The Boggins try to stop the children, but also other children try to stop or steal the hood

DSC_6046 DSC_6007 Successful children win a prize of £2!!!!

After the sack game comes the main event.  The "Hood" is actually a leather tube (being held by the Fool above) and this must be taken to the door of a pub to be touched by the landlord to end the game.  This must be done by shoving, not running or chasing and the scrum is know as the Sway.  The winning pub gets to display the Hood above the bar for the next year.  This year the winner was the Kings Arms in Haxey, the nearest to my house!  If you're ever in the area on the 6th of January, pop along to see this unique event.  The game can go on well into the night and usually takes at least 2 hours of shoving.  Here are some photos from this year's event.

DSC_6014 The Fool

DSC_6070 The Hood just before the start of the Sway

DSC_6074

DSC_6075 DSC_6113 DSC_6116 DSC_6103 DSC_6127 DSC_6131 DSC_6142 DSC_6146

DSC_6124 See more photos from this year's Hood here  http://www.andybramphotography.co.uk/p114811994

 


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