Every year on the 6th of January, save for those which fall on a Sunday (in which the event is moved to the 5th), people gather around in the town of Haxey, England, to push a leather tube, called the “hood”, to one of four pubs where it will remain until the same time next year. The game itself resembles rugby, and may very well be the oldest local tradition in England.
The origin of this custom is a bit cloudy, but the most accepted story is that sometime during the 14th century, Lady de Mowbray, the wife of an Isle Landowner, was out riding when her hood blew off. 13 farm workers in the field rushed to help her and chased the hood down for her. In exchange, she donated 13 acres of land in exchange that this practice be reenacted every year.
There are thirteen characters from this original tale represented every year in this game: the lord, the fool, and eleven boggins. After everyone is gathered around and warming up is completed, the Sway Hood is thrown up in the air. Everyone then begins the game to try and get the Sway Hood into one of four pubs in either Haxey or Westwoodside. The game ends when the Hood arrives at one of the pubs and is touched by the landlord from his front step.
At any time there are about 200 people in the “Sway” (the fight to push and pull the actual hood), and around 1,000 people watching.
Have you participated in anything like this before?