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Traditional Pain Games
 - and other traditional game customs which could be used today

Not 18?   You think I'm talking to you?   You think I'm talking to you?  In your dreams, kid.    
  1. Binti: A kicking game played by the Tausug of the Philippines.
  2. Finger-fishing: Nippon - a way of selecting a player to be "it".
  3. Arm-wrestling with candles: Scotland.
  4. Butág: Fist-pounding game from Ilokano in the Philippines.
  5. Dog-collar: Neck tug-of-war from Deutchland.
  6. Htaik-Kyen-Ha-Ki: Korea - kicking game.
  7. Hoppy Davy: Scotland - kicking game.
  8. Pindutan: Competitive hand shaking.
  9. Sipat: Spanking endurance, for a panel of judges.
  10. La Main Chaude: France.  A game of recognizing who is spanking.
  11. Chinpi - childs' pinching game : Nippon
  12. Hunt-the-slipper - a of teasing the one in the middle
  13. Sanja festival shrines - Nippon
  14. Rock war
  15. Drop-handkerchief ; with Kiss-in-the-ring
  16. Bare knuckle boxing
  17. Football
  18. Fraternity hazing
  19. Crossing-the-Line celebrations
  20. Whipp of Dunboyne
  21. Flinch
  22. Sauna endurance competitions
Other games: Kissing, dunking
1.  Binti: A kicking game played by the Tausug of the Philippines.
There are three players, a holder, a stander, and a kicker.     The stander stands on one foot, while the holder holds him around the waist, from the side.   The kicker, who is not allowed to take a running start, kicks the stander on the calf, trying to get the stander to bend his knee.    If the knee bends, the stander and the holder change places, while if it is held straight, the stander and the kicker change places.

One interesting point about this game, is that the Tausug never speak of winners and losers.    Each Tausug prizes his individual independence, and is careful never to say anything that might hurt the feelings of another man.

My source does not say anything about whether this game was played wearing pants or shoes, but based on other games I think it was likely played barefoot and in loincloths.
Safety : don't kick behind the knee (some sort of protection would be wise) and don't kick with your toes. 

2.  Finger-fishing: Nippon - a way of selecting a player to be "it".
I don't know much about this, including I don't know the Japanese name for the it.   One player called the fisherman, blindfolded, holds thumb and forefinger in a circle, while everyone else pokes their fingers in, one after another, keeping time by singing a song and sticking a new finger in on each beat.   Without warning, the blindfold player closes his hand, catching a finger.    But that player is only "it" if the fisherman can guess whose finger he has caught.    If you wanted to use this in a game, you might want to give the fisherman only a limited number of guesses, perhaps four; if he fails four times he becomes "it" himself.     I assume the song used was suggested by the image of the fingers going into the hole, but I don't know what the song was.

Finger-fishing is often used to select a first player for Me Kakushi, which is a Japanese game where one player covers someone's eyes from behind, and that player is supposed to guess who it is.

3.  Arm-wrestling with candles: Scotland.
Small candles are placed so that if your arm is pushed back you suffer increasing pain as it gets closer to the flame.    When you lose, your hand or arm squashes the candle, putting it out, and that hurts too.

Safety : Obviously, if you play this, and you are tough enough so you don't give up when your hand nears a candle flame, you will get burned.

Candles can also be used for naked tug-of-war; a row of them, so that as the lead player for one side is pulled over the line, he is above the candles; his team loses if he steps on or knocks over a candle.

4.  Butág: Fist-pounding game from Ilokano in the Philippines.
Two men sit across a table, and each places his right fist on the table.  Each player uses his left fist to beat the right fist of the other player; the first player to open his right fist loses.    The players hit as fast as they want to, they don't take turns or keep time with each other.   I'm not sure about how the right fist was placed on the table, but I guess it was with fingers up, as in the English version.

A similar game, called Knuckledusters, was played in Gloustershire in England.   In the English version, the players alternate hits, otherwise it is identical to the Ilokano version.  The fists were definitely placed with knuckles up, and the backs of the hands on the table.  The players usually don't give up, rather the first player to cry is the loser, and is called "baby" and teased.      The game often went on until both fists were bloody.    This game was played by boys in the mid 1900s, but I'm sure it was played by men in earlier times.

A related game is Club Fist which includes this addition:
The first one who smiles, laughs, or shows any teeth gets a rousing box (blow with fist) and fifteen pinches.
All then endeavor to sit stone faced while causing others to smile. When one person's composure cracks all punch and pinch him or her.

Safety: Risky, obviously.  Try to keep your cuts from getting infected.    What it does to your finger-joints I can only imagine.  Of course, I consider boxing, even with gloves, to be an utterly insane thing to do, and this seems somewhat less risky than that.   But whatever the risk is, it is your own; I'm not telling you to do it.

5.  Dog-collar: Neck tug-of-war from Deutchland.
A loop of string or rope is placed around the necks of both contestants, who are kneeling, and they pull, trying to pull the other over a line on the ground.   Of course the string digs into the back of the neck.   A player who falls over also loses.

Safety: Don't know, but the neck doesn't seem like a good part of the body to take chances with.   Just to be clear, a single large loop goes around both necks - this is not a game about strangling each other.

6.  Htaik-Kyen-Ha-Ki: Korea - kicking game.
Players take turn kicking each other.   The object is to knock the other player over.   The player being kicked can use his hands to catch or block a high kick.    Also played in Japan.

Safety : None.

7.  Hoppy Davy: Scotland - kicking game.
Players stand on one foot and keep their arms folded, and the object is to knock the other player over.   A player also loses if his foot touches the ground.    There is no taking of turns, and any sort of butting is allowed, but kicking is most common.   ( I assume there is a rule against kicking the balls ).

A similar game, called Kágkagtin, is played by the Igorot of the Philippines.   This game is played in loincloths and with bare feet, and the kicking is not done with the points of the toes, but with the soles of the feet (which are very hard as Igorot generally go barefoot, or did at the time this game was collected).    The kicking style is such that the kicker's head is often lower than his waist.

Safety : There isn't any.   The biggest danger is to the knee joint.   You'd be better off getting kicked in the balls.

8.  Pindutan: Competitive hand shaking.
Shake hands and squeeze hard - that's all.    The one who wants to stop the pain in his hand has to get down on his knees and say--or scream--"Master!" ("Amo!" in Tagalog).

Safety : Not a good idea, I would think.    Bad for the joints.

9.  Sipat: Spanking endurance, for a panel of judges.  From the Bontoc of the Philippines.
A player, typically the strongest man, stands in front of a bench, and challenges anyone to come forward.    A player who accepts the challenge sits on the bench with one leg crossed over the other,with that foot planted on the bench, so the side of one buttock and the thigh is presented to be spanked (the Bontoc used to wear narrow loincloths).   The player being spanked holds his knee in his hands.  The spanker takes a ferocious swing, but stops an inch away from hitting, while the judges watch for any sign of concern in the spankee's face.   Then the spanker gives a real spank, with every ounce of his strength, using a follow-through stroke by pivoting on one foot and pushing off the ground with the other.   (Something like a discus-thrower).    The spankee is supposed to smile and laugh and show no sign of pain.   He stands up and walks around trying to joke and laugh, and may get poked and prodded on the red handprint on his butt.   He says boastfully that it didn't hurt.  
   The judges may declare the spankee to be the loser, at this point, if he showed pain; otherwise the judges may order the players to switch positions, so the spanker gets spanked, and then the judges pick one.

The spankee is judged not only for showing no pain or fear on his face, but also for the degree of redness and bruising produced.   If neither showed pain, the loser is the one with the reddest bruise. 

Among the Bontoc, the strong man who is giving the spankings, and perhaps getting a spanking from each challenger, continues until everyone who wants to accept his challenge has done so, whether the challengers win or loose.   But I think if you wanted to play this today, it would make more sense for the winner to be the challenger for the next spank.

Among the Bontoc, whether you win or lose, you should continue to claim afterwards that it didn't hurt.     Someone who was present when the challenge was made, and did not accept, is subject to teasing.

Safety: Safe enough, I would think, as in general spanking is.   The position for these spankings has the torso straight--if, to try to get in position, the spankee is hunched over, bent at the stomach, that isn't the right position, and it might be dangerous.

10.  La Main Chaude: France.  A game of recognizing who is spanking.
also : Italy (Mani Calde), England (Hot Cockles), Russia (Жучок) .  

  Pick a player at random to be the first one spanked, and one to sit to provide a lap.    The game can be played bare-bottom or not as you like, and either by hand or using a shoe.
   The player to be spanked kneels in front of the sitting player, and puts his face in that player's lap.
   Any player can choose to spank - the spanker delivers one swat, and the player being spanked tries to guess who it was who just gave that spank.
    If the guess is correct, the player whose identity was guessed, takes the place of the spanked player, while the spanked player takes the place of the sitting player. 
    If a guess is not correct, the spanked player is spanked by one player after another until guessing one spanker correctly.  If a guess is not correct, the spanked player is not told who it was.
    For the spanking of any one spankee, every player must spank before anyone spanks for a second time.
     The game ends when everyone has been spanked at least once, and the last player to be spanked has made a correct guess.  :    See my La Main Chaude page.

Safety : No problem I can see.

11.  Chinpi: Nippon - pinching game.
This is from My Asakusa, by Sadako Sawamura :
Two children often played janken, scissors-paper-rock.   The one who won pulled up the other's sleeve and stroked, rubbed, and tickled the upper arm, saying, "Somen, nyumen, hiyasomen, chinpi, chinpi, chinpi."   When saying the "chinpi," part, the child pinched the arm harder and harder.  Anyone who cried out in pain lost the game.   ...  If a boy and a girl played this game together, other boys who wanted to be mischievous were sure to make fun of them and shout, "Look at them.  A boy and a girl are parching beans.   They'll never finish."   These boys must really have wanted to join in the girl's games and play. 
Somen, nyumen, and hiyasomen are three kinds of noodles, and chinpi means orange peel.    "Parching beans" is yet another Japanese slang expression for having sex, one of thousands.  I think the teasing meant "Little boy, little girl, trying to get it on: they'll never cum!"
 I presume the child who cried out in pain and so lost would have been given a forfeit, whatever the winner wanted to impose; a child's game forfeit I've seen described (not for this game in particular) was "Get down on your knees and bark like a dog."

Scissors-Paper-Stone, called Janken Pon, is also played as a stripping game under the name Yakyuuken, and as a drinking game (usually in a Fox-Hunter-Gun version.)   See my Yakyuuken page.

12.  Hunt the Slipper: England - a game of smacking the player in the middle.
This is from The Vicar of Wakefield, 1761, by Oliver Goldsmith :
Mr. Burchell, who was of the party, was always fond of seeing some innocent amusement going forward, and set the boys and girls to blind man's buff. My wife too was persuaded to join in the diversion, and it gave me pleasure to think she was not yet too old. In the meantime, my neighbour and I looked on, laughed at every feat, and praised our own dexterity when we were young. Hot cockles succeeded next, questions and commands followed that, and last of all they sat down to hunt the slipper As every person may not be acquainted with this primeval pastime, it may be necessary to observe that the company at this play plant themselves in a ring upon the ground, all except one who stands in the middle, whose business it is to catch a shoe, which the company shove about under their hams from one to another, something like a weaver's shuttle. As it is impossible, in this case, for the lady who is up to face all the company at once, the great beauty of the play lies in hitting her a thump with the heel of the shoe on that side least capable of making a defence. It was in this manner that my eldest daughter was hemmed in, and thumped about, all blowzed, in spirits, and bawling for fair play, fair play, with a voice that might deafen a ballad singer, ...
Thus four games were played at this country party of the 1750s, and three were spanking games and one was Truth or Dare!    That was what people did for fun in those days.   But even then it was under threat; here's the rest of Goldsmith's story :
 ... when confusion on confusion, who should enter the room but our two great acquaintances from town, Lady Blarney and Miss Carolina Wilelmina Amelia Skeggs! Description would but beggar, therefore it is unnecessary to describe this new mortification. Death! To be seen by ladies of such high breeding in such vulgar attitudes! Nothing better could ensue from such a vulgar play of Mr. Flamborough's proposing. We seemed stuck to the ground for some time, - as if actually petrified with amazement.
even then there were the Miss Carolina Wilelmina Amelia Skeggses of the world - why do we let them win?

13.  Carrying mikoshi for the Sanja festival: Nippon - this is not a game.
mikoshi are portable Shinto shrines.
This is from My Asakusa, by Sadako Sawamura :
...when the shi-no-miya, the number four shrine, was added at the main festival. it was said that the mounting excitement sometimes resulted in actual bloodshed.   This shrine, far larger and heavier than the others, was borne on the shoulders of energetic young men, in particular those who took pride in their strength and muscles.   They beat their chests with their fists and boasted to others: "Hey! The shi-no-miyo is to heavy for you, you scrawny weaklings."   ...
   Each district proudly paraded with its own mikoshi.  Someone might say, "Let's ram our mikoshi into the shi-no-miyo this year."   Having had to much to drink, they would clash if their shrine touched, or even slightly evaded, another.   Over such trivialities, they actually provoked fights.   Naturally some got hurt, for they were young, hot-tempered, and full of vigor.
    Be that as it may, the morning after the festival, no one seemed to recall the fights.   No one held a grudge against a person who hit, or even injured him.   Such fights were, so to speak, outlets for the overflowing energy of young men.  ... The morning after the festival, it was as if a soft summer rain had washed away all memory of the violence of the previous night. 

  If a woman or girl touched the mikoshi in the old days, it had to be purified with salt, and the woman was given a terrible time.    
It was even wrong for a female to look down on a mikoshi from an upstairs window.  Sadako Sawamura went back to the Sanja festival after 30 years, in the 60's, and found that women were by then helping to carry the mikoshi.   She writes ...
    Oh, I wished that I could have done that.  ... Are the boys weaker now that the girls have become stronger, have become their equals?   No, no, that is not the case, I bet.   Yet, the festivals have become less popular with young people. ...
    I am told that the shi-no-miya, the violent mikoshi, was not rebuilt after it was destroyed in an air raid during the last war.

14.  Rock war: Philippines, Andes, USA.

Rock war is throwing rocks at the other team.

When played between neighboring villages in the Philippines, the farmer who lost the most blood was congratulated on the fine harvest he could expect.   The villages were not enemies.

Rock War was recorded in the USA in the 1880s, between gangs of boys.

As a child in California, we played war with "grass bombs."   A clump of wild grass pulled up by the roots, brought a clod of dirt with it, usually with a few bits of gravel.   The grass acted as a handle, allowing the clod to be spun around your head and thrown with real force - bloody wounds were not unusual.    But we didn't have a lot of real wars, because we had no enemies who could fight; we hated with a passion the boy scouts and campfire girls who shared our bit of wilderness, but they weren't allowed to fight with us.

15.  Drop-handkerchief: Traditional English, Greek, and from many other places.

One player is chosen at random as "it."    The others sit or kneel in a circle, facing inward;  the "it" walks around outside the circle with a handkerchief, and silently drops it behind one player.   The players in the ring may not look backward while the "it" is behind them, but once he has passed they may take one quick glance over one shoulder or the other.    They may also feel behind themselves with their hands, but may not get up.
If the player behind whom the handkerchief was dropped, does not find it, and the "it" player makes a complete circuit, coming to that player again, then the "it" player picks up the handkerchief and whips that player.    The player leaves his place, and runs around the circle, with the "it" running behind and whipping, until he completes a circle and returns to his place again, where he is safe.   The "it" remains "it."

But if a player finds the handkerchief, he leaves his place and runs to catch up with "it,"
 .    He whips "it" all around the circle until the "it" reaches the place vacated, where the former "it" joins the circle, and the chasing player becomes the new "it.".  

Whipping by a handkerchief on clothing can't have been very serious.   But in parts of England, the game was called "whackem," and was played with a large piece of cloth, tightly twisted.   I can myself testify to the effectiveness of a cloth tightly rolled while wet, and allowed to dry, and applied vigourously; it is quite effective even through a layer of clothing.  In Greece, the game is called , and is played with a rope whip rather than a handkerchief.

The game, or rather dance, Kiss-in-the-Ring is similar, but the ring of players dance, with linked hands, and the "it" runs around and strikes an unsuspecting dancer with a "whip", that dancer then chases the "it" around the circle, then they kiss in the ring. 
  The dance uses the notion of romantic whipping, but as far as I know the whip used was never more serious than a bunch of ribbons.

16.  Bare knuckle boxing: Everywhere.

I mention this only as an example of a game, played for fun, that involved the endurance of pain.

Safety : get outa here.
17.  Football: Traditional English.

As played traditionally, a bloody business.

18.  Fraternity Hazing: Traditional American.

Hazing is not voluntary, and therefore hazing does not count as a game.   But in some cases pledges did have a choice about how many times to say "please sir, may I have another?"    Masturbation contests were also part of hazing tradition.

19.  Crossing-the-line celebrations: A tradition of the sea.

A hazing ceremony held when crossing the equator; for sailors crossing it for the first time.

I haven't found out too much about these; one source described only some mild pranks.   But the same source said that since Navy ships now had women on them, the hazing had "of course" to be given up; this suggests something rather crude was part of the old tradition, but I don't know what
it was.

20.  Whipp of Dunboyne: Irish fire dance.

  ... only Country danses, whereof they haue some pleasant to beholde, as … Balrudry, … and the whipp of Dunboyne and the daunse a bout a fyer (Comonly in the midst of a roome) holding withes in their hands, and by certayne straynes drawing one another into the fyer .      Graham Kew (ed.). The Irish sections of Fynes Moryson’s unpublished ITINERARY (Dublin, 1998), p. 112..

21.  Flinch: Missouri.

Traditional gamesThe game actually consists of not flinching. One person aims a blow at the hand or a whip of the fingers at the other intending to come as close to the target person's body as possible without touching. These feints are usually aimed at the upper body or head so that the vision of the coming blow is involved. If the target person flinches the person aiming the feint at him or her has the privilege of delivering a real fisted blow to the flincher's upper arm, near the shoulder. However, if the aggressor in aiming the pretended blow actually does strike the target person when the intent is to produce a flinch by means of a feint, then the target person is allowed to strike a real blow on the arm of the aggressor.

22.  Sauna endurance competitions: Finland.

Website:  hot sauna endurance competitions in Finland.   (in Germany).

Safety : these are official events, not something done underground, and the organizers claim that no more than a reasonable number of heart attacks occur.    Really.

1.  Tug-of-war: Played by the ancient Romans, and many people since.

Sometimes played across a pool, so the team that loses gets pulled in.   See also using a row of candles..

2.  Water fights: World-wide.

Played with water balloons, soaker water guns, and no particular rules.

Water throwing is also a feature of some traditional annual festivals, such as Holi in India.   The water and color-throwing happen the day after a night of bonfires.
Every March in northern India, Hindus and non-Hindus alike douse each other in powdered color and water, drink marijuana-laced bhang, and in some areas, women beat men playfully with sticks.

... we saw hundreds of men and women covered head to toe in the colorful powders. Watching people smack each other with handfuls of powder, play-fight, and get drunk on bhang, it’s easy to see how it could get dangerous.

Greek and Roman games, on Encyclopedia Online  :  Homer's children built castles in the sand, and Greek and Roman children alike had their dolls, their hoops, their skipping-ropes, their hobby-horses, their kites, their knuckle-bones and played at hopscotch, the tug-of-war, pitch and toss, blind-man's buff, hide and seek, and kiss in the ring or at closely analogous games.

Samuel Pepys  in 1669 tells of the Duke of York (later James II) and the Duchess 'with all the great ladies sitting upon a carpet, on the ground, there being no chairs, playing at "I love my love with an A, because he is so and so: and I hate him with an A, because of this and that:" and some of them, but particularly the Duchess herself, and my lady Castlemayne, were very witty.'" (p. 245)

Sex and Scandal in Nursery Rhymes : Mr Roberts says Jack and Jill is a cautionary tale of pre-marital hillside sex, with a metaphorical breaking crown.

 Nursery Rhymes
 from kissing games & dances

Many traditional rhymes had their origin in dance games; especially kissing dance games.
( Emigrant Life in Kansas by Percy G. Ebbutt  :  The best of it is that there are a great many Methodists and others who look upon dancing as an unpardonable sin, and yet do not object to games of this kind. In fact, upon this occasion some game or other was proposed, but ruled out and strongly objected to, especially by one young lady, the daughter of a Methodist parson, as "it was too much like dancing." But she played in the other games, and seemed to enjoy them, kissing included. )
( A museum curator, about an exhibition of traditional games : "In many of these parlor games, children would kiss the person who won or lost, or it was often a supervised excuse for teens to kiss the person they were sweet on.  It's so funny to see the reaction when you tell that to young kids today.   They just turn inside out." )

My page on the origin of Pop! Goes the Weasel

 Kiss-in-the-ring: Using the same rules as drop-handkerchief, but where the player who chases kisses, rather than whips, the player he catches running around the ring.   Instead of dropping a handkerchief, a letter is sometimes dropped.     But the name Kiss-in-the-Ring was also applied to a game that seems more similar to Bab at the Bowster, and also applied to Cat after Mouse.   another Kiss-in-the-Ring    
A-tisket, a-tasket,
   A green and yellow basket.
I wrote a letter to my love,
   But on the way I dropped it.
I dropped it, I dropped it,
   And, on the way I dropped it.
A little boy picked it up,
  And put it in his pocket.
Anna Karenina  : Their homeward journey was as lively as their drive out had been. Veslovsky sang songs and related with enjoyment his adventures with the peasants, who had regaled him with vodka, and said to him, "Excuse our homely ways," and his night's adventures with kiss-in-the-ring and the servant-girl and the peasant, who had asked him was he married, and on learning that he was not, said to him, "Well, mind you don't run after other men's wives--you'd better get one of your own." These words had particularly amused Veslovsky. 
Sketches by Boz :   'Kiss in the Ring,' and 'Threading my Grandmother's Needle,' too, are sports which receive their full share of patronage. Love-sick swains, under the influence of gin-and-water, and the tender passion, become violently affectionate: and the fair objects of their regard enhance the value of stolen kisses, by a vast deal of struggling, and holding down of heads, and cries of 'Oh! Ha' done, then, George - Oh, do tickle him for me, Mary - Well, I never!' and similar Lucretian ejaculations.    

 Bab at the Bowster:
     But yet, within the memory of living men, it was the regular custom in country places nearly all over Scotland to wind up every dancing-ball with "Bab at the Bowster."  No wedding dance, no Handsel Monday ball, would have been esteemed complete without it;  

     By the time the last verse has been reached the boy has fixed on his partner, and at the command to "kneel down and kiss the ground" he spreads the handkerchief on the floor at the girl's feet, on which both immediately kneel.  A kiss ensues, even though it should obtained after a struggle; then the boy marches away round and round followed by the girl, while all again sing the song.  By the time the last verse is again reached, the girl in turn has selected the next boy, but does not kneel down before him.  She simply throws the handkerchief in his lap, and immediately joins her own partner by taking his arm.  If, however, she can be overtaken before she joins her partner, a penalty kiss may be enforced.    
Wha learned you to dance
       Babbity Bowster, Babbity Bowster,
 Wha learned you to dance,
       A country bumpkin brawly?

My mither learned me when I was young,
     When I was young, when I was young,
My mither learned me when I was young,
       The country bumpkin brawly.

Kneel down and kiss the ground,
       Kiss the ground, kiss the ground,
 Kneel down and kiss the ground,
       Kiss the bonnie wee lassie.

The familiar tune Pop! Goes the Weasel originated from one of the tunes used for Bab at the Bowster.
The song was sometimes sung with "Cocky Breeky" instead of "Babity Bowster", when the girls danced with the back edges of their dresses pulled forward between their legs, giving the effect of `breeks' (to say nothing of cocks) to the garment.

 Cat after mouse:
     Cat after Mouse; "performed indiscriminately by the boys and the girls. All the players but one holding each other's hands form a large circle; he that is exempted passes round, and striking one of them, immediately runs under the arms of the rest; the person so struck is obliged to pursue him until he be caught, but at the same time he must be careful to pass under the arms of the same players as he did who touched him, or he forfeits his chance and stands out, while he that was pursued claims a place in the circle. When this game is played by an equal number of boys and girls, a boy must touch a girl, and a girl a boy, and when either of them be caught they go into the middle of the ring and salute each other; hence is derived the name of kiss in the ring."
Note: while this is described as a game here, it can also be a dance  (or rather,  both).    The players, or rather the dancers, in the ring are dancing, and the circle is turning, as the cat and the mouse chase one another through the gaps.    Such circle dances were sometimes danced with a long garland.
How To Play Cat After Mouse (but I'll say "Weasel" and Monkey and rather than Cat and Mouse):    
  • Players in the dance ring face inward, so Weasel, who running around the outside of the circle, has a chance to pick someone who is not expecting it:
          (The Monkey thought 'twas all in fun).  
  • Weasel smacks any player, making a Monkey of him (or her) :
          (Pop! goes the Weasel).  
  • Monkey takes off after Weasel, who will have gotten a head start, chasing her around the circle:
          (All around the cobler's bench, the Monkey chased the Weasel).  
  • Weasel can go in and out of the circle:
          (In and out of the Eagle).  
  • Each time Weasel passes to the outside of the circle,
    he (or she) can turn clockwise or counter-clockwise
          (Up and down the London Road).  
  • Monkey, who is chasing Weasel,
    must go through the same "holes" as Weasel did,
    the way a thread must follow a needle
          (That's the way the money goes).  
  • If Monkey makes a mistake about this, then:
          (The Monkey's on the table.  
           Take a
    stick and knock it about,   
    Pop! goes the Weasel).  
  • And Monkey also becomes Weasel for the next round.
  • But if Monkey catches Weasel without making any mistakes,
          (I've no time to plead and sigh, I've no time to wheedle). 
  • Monkey returns the smack ... and then they kiss in the middle of the ring:
          (Kiss me quick
    and then goodnight.). 
  • After a chase and a kiss, naturally a drink--and any old hooch will do for this "country dance":
          ( Half a pound of tuppeny rice  
           half a pound of treacle
    mix it up and make it nice).  
  • But don't  drink too much of that stuff, or:
          (Pop! goes the Weasel).  
          .  .  
We know Pop Goes the Weasel was a dance, we don't know it was a game.   So in any case the players in the circle are dancing - and the circle turns in the dance, making it harder for Monkey to keep track of which hole Weasel went through.  

Michael Quinion | Fresno  Folklore  | Australia 1853 | Oxford 1854 |  

Note that when Monkey makes a mistake, Monkey becomes Weasel, but otherwise, you will need to select a new Weasel.   I don't think it makes sense to have the same player be Weasel over and over again until some Monkey makes a mistake. 

All around the cobbler's bench,
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey thought 'twas all in fun: 
Pop! goes the weasel.

A penny for a spool of thread,
A penny for a needle.
That's the way the money goes.
Pop! goes the weasel.

Up and down the London Road,
In and out of the Eagle,
That's the way the money goes.
Pop! goes the weasel.

Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle,
Mix it up and make it nice:
Pop! goes the weasel.

Every night when Mum goes out,
The monkey's on the table.
Take a stick and knock it about:
Pop! goes the weasel.

I've no time to plead and sigh,
I've no time to wheedle,
Kiss me quick and then good-bye :
Pop! goes the weasel.

 London Bridge is Falling Down:
 All versions of this game, and related games such as Oranges and Lemons, have two players forming an arch by linking hands - players pass under the bridge as the song is sung, until at a certain point in the music the bridge is brought down, catching a player.   In the kissing versions (all these games have kissing versions) that player is kissed.    When a girl was the one caught, she would be expected to at least seem reluctant.    So the address to "My fair lady," and the debate about whether the bridge could be built up (arms raised) or if all attempts would fail (arms lowered again) makes sense in the context of the game.

Games based on the dropped bridge are widespread in Europe; naturally children sing about different bridges.

In one kissing version, players are already paired off, and squeeze through the arch as couples; when the bridge falls, the captured couple kiss each other.    
London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.

How shall we build it up again,
Up again, up again,
How shall we build it up again,
My fair lady ?

Build it up with silver and gold,
Silver and gold, silver and gold,
Build it up with silver and gold,
My fair lady.

Silver and gold will be stolen away,
Stolen away, stolen away,
Silver and gold will be stolen away,
My fair lady.

 source   "Oranges and lemons," said Georgina promptly, and seized the Indiarubber Man's hand.

"I don't know the words," replied her partner plaintively; " I only knows the toon," as the leadsman said to the Navigator.

So the children supplied the words to the men's bass accompaniment ; the Captain and his wife linked hands. The candle came to light them to bed ; the chopper came to chop off a head ; and at the end a grand tug-of-war terminated with two squealing heaps of humanity in miniature subsiding on top of the young Doctor and the A.P.

Then they played "Hunt the slipper," at which Torps, with his long arms, greatly distinguished himself, and " Hide the thimble," at which Double-O Gerrard, blinking through his glasses straight at the quarry without seeing it, was hopelessly disgraced.   
Oranges and Lemons per the BBC

Many traditionnal rhymes are quite suggestive even if the game associated with them has been lost.  Here are a few suggestive of kissing games:   
There was a little boy, and a little girl,  
       Lived in an alley;               
Says the little boy, to the little girl,       
      Shall I, oh, shall I?                

Says the little girl, to the little boy,
       What shall you do?
Says the little boy, to the little girl,
        I will kiss you

Sukey, you shall be my wife 
   And I will tell you why:     
I have got a little pig,           
   And you have got a sty;   

I have got a milch cow,
   And you can make good cheese;
Sukey, will you marry me?
   Say Yes, if you please.
There was an old man     In a velvet coat,
He kissed a maid      And gave her a groat.
The groat it was crack'd,    And would not go,--
Ah, old man, do you serve me so?

When I was a little boy      
My mammy kept me in, 
But now I am a great boy  
I'm fit to serve the king;   

I can hand a musket,
    And I can smoke a pipe,
And I can kiss a bonny girl
    At twelve o'clock at night.

Good morning, Father Francis.
   Good morning, Mrs. Sheckleton.
What has brought you abroad so early, Mrs. Sheckleton?
    I have come to confess a great sin, Father Francis.
What is it, Mrs.Sheckleton?
    Your cat stole a pound of my butter, Father Francis.

O, no sin at all, Mrs. Sheckleton.
    But I killed your cat for it, Father Francis.
O, a very great sin indeed, Mrs. Sheckleton, you must do penance.
    What penance, Father Francis?
Kiss me three times.
   Oh! but I can't!
Oh! but you must!
   Oh! but I can't!
Oh! but you must!
   Well, what must be must,
   So kiss, kiss, kiss, and away.
This Sally Waters rhyme was recorded as being used for a kissing dance, where a girl got to chose a boy to kiss her over and over again.  The source doesn't say what was done with that thin slice of chopped wood:
Sally, Sally Waters,      
Sprinkle in the pan, 
Rise Sally, rise Sally,    
Choose a young man.
Bow to the east,          
Bow to the west,    
Bow to the young man
That you love best. 


ow you are married
    You must be good,
And help your wife
     To chop the wood,
Chop it thin
      And bring it in,
And kiss her over
     and over again.

Here's another rhyme, for a dance where the boy chooses.   It sounds like the kissing was done similarly to Cocky Breeky:

Go choose you east, go choose you west;
Go choose the one that you love best.
If she's not here to take her part,
Go choose another with all your heart.

Down on this carpet you must kneel
As sure as the grass grows in the field.
Salute your bride and kiss her sweet,
And now you rise upon your feet.

Georgy Porgy, pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play,
Georgy Porgy ran away.

Trip upon trenchers, and dance upon dishes,
My mother sent me for some barm, some barm;
She bid me tread lightly, and come again quickly,
For fear the young men should do me some harm.
       Yet didn't you see,  yet didn't you see,
       What naughty tricks  they put upon me:
           They broke my pitcher,  
                    And spilt the water,
           And huffed my mother,  
                   And chid her daughter,
       And kissed my sister instead of me.      
O dear, what can the matter be?
Dear, dear, what can the matter be?
O dear, what can the matter be?
Johnny's so long at the fair.

He promised he'd buy me a fairing should please me,
And then for a kiss, oh! he vowed he would tease me,
He promised he'd bring me a bunch of blue ribbons
To tie up my bonny brown hair.

A few rhymes are suggestive, if not of kissing.

"Mother, may I go out to swim?"
"Yes, my darling daughter,
But hang your clothes on a hickory limb,  
And don't go near the water."
I had a little nut tree,
Nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg
And a golden pear;

he King of Spain's daughter
Came to visit me,
And all for the sake
Of my little nut tree.

Trip and go, heave and hoe, up and down, to and fro,
From the down to the grove, two and two, let us rove.

A-maying, a-playing, love hath no gainsaying;
So merrily trip and go,
So merrily trip and go.

As I was going up Pippen Hill
Pippen Hill was dirty;
There I met a pretty Miss,
And she dropped me a curtsy.

Little Miss, pretty Miss,
Blessings light upon you;
If I had half-a-crown a day,
I'd spend it all upon you

A great many traditional childrens rhymes have to do with whipping, and given that some traditional games involved smackings, it is possible that these rhymes too, have their origin as songs for dance games.

Jack and Jill
Went up the hill,
To fetch a pail of water;
Jack fell down,
And broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Then up Jack got,
And home did trot,
As fast as he could caper;
To old Dame Dob,
Who patched his nob
With vinegar and brown paper.

When Jill came in,
How she did grin
To see Jack's paper plaster;
Her mother, vexed,
Did whip her next,
 For laughing at Jack's disaster.

Now Jack did laugh
And Jill did cry,
But her tears did soon abate;
Then Jill did say,
That they should play
At see-saw across the gate.

I had a little pony,
His name was Dapple Gray;
I lent him to a lady
To ride a mile away.
        She whipped him, she slashed him,
        She rode him through the mire;
        I would not lend my pony now,
        For all the lady's hire.

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children she didn't know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
And whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

Tom, Tom, the piper's son,
 Stole a pig and away he run;    
   The pig was eat,
      And Tom was beat,
And Tom went crying down the street

The Queen of Hearts
She made some tarts,
All on a summer's day;
The Knave of Hearts,
He stole those tarts,
And took them clean away.

The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the knave full sore:
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he'd steal no more
The King of Spades
He kissed the maids,
Which made the Queen full sore;
The Queen of Spades
She beat those maids,
And turned them out of door:

The Knave of Spades
Grieved for those jades,
And did for them implore;
The Queen so gent
She did relent
And vowed she'd ne'er strike more.
The King of Clubs
He often drubs
His loving Queen and wife;
The Queen of Clubs
Returns his snubs,
And all is noise and strife:

The Knave of Clubs
Gives winks and rubs.
And swears he'll take her part;
For when our kings
Will do such things,
They should be made to smart.
The Diamond King
I fain would sing,
And likewise his fair Queen;
But that the Knave,
A haughty slave,
Must needs step in between;

Good Diamond King,
With hempen string,
The haughty Knave destroy!
Then may your Queen
With mind serene,
Your royal bed enjoy

There was a little girl, and she had a little curl
   Right in the middle of her forehead;
When she was good she was very, very good,
   But when she was bad she was horrid.

One day she went up stairs, while her parents, unawares,
     In the kitchen were occupied with meals;
And she stood up on her head, on her little truckle-bed,
    And then began hurraying with her heels.

Her mother heard the noise and thought it was the boys,
     A-kicking up a rumpus in the attic;
But when she climbed the stair, and saw Jemima there,
     She took her and did whip her most emphatic.
Once in my life I married a wife,         
    And where do you think I found her?
On Gretna Green, in velvet sheen,        
    And I took up a stick to pound her.   

She jumped over a barberry-bush,
   And I jumped over a timber,
I showed her a gay gold ring,
   And she showed me her finger
Little Polly Flinders
Sat among the cinders,
Warming her pretty little toes;
Her mother came and caught her,
And whipped her little daughter
For spoiling her nice new clothes.

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- September 2006 -

David Nunes da Silva 

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