When: 6th January 2014, from 12 noon
Where: Haxey, Lincolnshire
What is it?
The Haxey Hood Game is a 700 year old tradition played on the 12th day of Christmas. It is the second oldest surviving tradition in the UK and still attracts a large crowd.
The origins of the Haxey Hood Game are unknown but legend has it that in the 13th century Lady Mowbray lost her scarlet hood as she was riding from the village of Haxey in Lincolnshire. Twelve labourers were said to have chased after the hood and returned it to the lady. As a reward she laid on a feast and every year afterwards a game was played for the hood.
Nowadays, on the day of the game, a procession takes place, ending at the village green outside the church. The procession is led by a ‘Fool’ and his twelve ‘Boggans’ (or team of players, to you and me). These Boggans traditionally wear red to match the scarlet hood that Lady Mowbray is said to have lost.
Before the game begins the Fool mounts a stone and makes a speech which invites the people gathered to play the game. He says, “Hoose agen hoose, toon agen toon, if tho’ meet a man, knock ‘im doon, but don’t ‘ut ‘im”. While the Fool makes the speech a small heap of straw is set alight behind him. The Fool then leads the way to the land where the game is played. The ‘hood’ is then thrown up and the game begins. The Boggans must try to stop the other players from taking the hood over the village boundary.
Below is a video of the event which includes the unusual ceremony before the game begins.