We’re excited to share an article from Folk Magazine!
This summer we wanted to offer our readers a look at some of our favorite summer pastime games that the citizens of the New England colonies and later states would’ve also played. Early New England pioneers may not have had the most time to play outside with their children, but it’s apparent that these are the types of games that their children would’ve played. From Boston to Philadelphia, New Englanders would’ve known about the sport of Bocce as passed down through the centuries by Egyptians and Romans, would’ve played a simple game of ring toss at local fairs and celebrations and would’ve cleared their lawns for a quick game of croquet in the later 1800s. So, take an opportunity this summer to play some of the sports of our ancestors and enjoy your free time in the same way they would’ve enjoyed theirs.
Bocce Ball The object of this game is pretty simple. There are four balls per team and one tiny white ball called a jack. Each team gets a chance to throw the jack to the center of a lawn and the closest to the middle gets to gofirst. Each team then takes turns trying to pitch a bocce ball, underhanded, toward the jack in an effort to get their ball closest to it. After each pitch, the team with the ball closest to the jack forfeits their turn to the other team so that they may try. Each team should try to get their ball closest to the jack and can knock the opposing teams ball out of the way to do so. After all of the balls have been thrown, the team with the ball closest to the jack wins.
Ring Toss Arrange 9 bottles of varying sizes and colors in a 3×3 square. Taking turns with three rings each, have participants stand ten paces away and try to ring as many bottles as possible. Best in 5 rounds wins.
Croquet The word “croquet,” referring to the game we now play today, first appeared in the registration of a document containing its rule in England in 1856. The game however traveled across the ocean with European citizens and became a beloved pastime in the New England states. The rules of this game are somewhat difficult to explain so after you pick up your croquet set, we suggest you visit www.oxfordcroquet.com.
Lawn Darts We used a vintage set, often available at vintage fairs. The rules are simple and very similar to Ring Toss. Two competitors throw two darts each, at three round targets on the ground placed 15 paces from throwers. The rings are arranged much like a Mickey Mouse shape, with one large ring closest to the throwers—worth one point, should the thrower land one inside—and two smaller rings that should lie diagonally behind and to the left and right of the larger hoop—these rings are worth 3 points each. The best of 5 rounds wins!
Lawn Bowling Ten bottles are arranged in a triangle just like in regular bowling, the rules and scoring system is the same. We like to use a spare bocce ball to bowl.
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