European Lawn Games

“I think that among the peoples constituting geographic groups, like the peoples of Europe, there should be some kind of federal bond. It should be possible for them to get into touch at any time, to confer about their interests… That is the link I want to forge”

Aristide Briand, 1929

It’s summer time and you want to go out and enjoy your afternoon playing exotic games in a parc? Or it’s a sunny Saturday and you wanna meet your friends and play lawn games like Europeans? This article is just for you! Join Europe’s huge playground where you’ll be able to enjoy the old continent’s greatest traditional games and sports. Here you’ll learn to throw the Mölkky like the Finns, the Chinquilho like the Portuguese or the Pétanque balls like the French. You’ll get to know how to hit the Croquet balls like the Brits, the Hornussen like the Swiss or the Oină ball like the Romanian. If you are brave enough, you’ll also try to swing like the Estonians, kick the ball like the Croatian or catch the Ring like the Poles. In any case, you’ll be offered new and peculiar experiences and go through lots of fun. Come along and discover the first compilation of European lawn games! Share and comment!


Jogo da Malha

Jogo da Malha, or Jogo de Chinquilho as it is called in some areas of Portugal, is a traditional Portuguese game reported to date back from the 15th Century. It could even be older as its practice in Portugal is reported to date back from the times when soldiers of the Roman army started to occupy leisure time in the camps by tossing useless horseshoes. The game is played on a hard surface. There is a long concrete strip sprinkled with what looks like sand or fine grit. A wooden pin called a meco is set up at the far end of the track and the players throw a metal disc (mesh) to knock down the pino (meco). Two individuals can play against each other, or teams can play with equal number of members. Usually played after a working day or on Sundays, Portugueses like to play Jogo da Malha to socialize and spend a bit of time with their friends while having fun. If you want to play it like Portugueses, here are the simple rules!


Pelota vasca o valenciana

The roots of the pelota vasca or valenciana can be traced to the Greek and other ancient cultures. The term pelota itself probably comes from the Vulgar Latin term pilotta or the word pila which may relate to a hard leather ball filled with pilus (hair or fur). The pelota vasca is played with a ball using one’s hand, a racket, a wooden bat or a basket, against a wall (frontis or Fronton) or, more traditionally, with two teams face to face separated by a line on the ground or a net. Pelota is usually played in the Basque regions of south-western France and north-eastern Spain, where it originates. There is also a Valencian pilota which is considered the national sport in the region. But this is also a dangerous game. Being the fastest ball game in the world with the ball easily travelling at 200 km/h, pelota can kill if safety equipment is not used properly or at all. So play safe, and read the rules carefully!



It’s been more than a century that the French started to play pétanque in the center of their village’s square, under a torrid sun and with a glass of Pastis in the hand they don’t need to play with. In the Provençal dialect of the Occitan language, the petanca derives from the expression pès tancats which means ‘feet fixed’. It’s indeed with their feet planted on the ground that the French play with their steel balls, tossing them as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet (literally “piglet”). At the origin of the game, a noble intention: Ernest Pitiot, a local café owner at La Ciotat, invented this game to accommodate a French jeu provençal player named Jules Lenoir, whose rheumatism prevented him from running before he threw the ball. The first pétanque tournament was organized in 1910. After that the game spread quickly and soon became the most popular form of boules in France. Wanna play next week end? You will find the rules explained briefly here.



Everyone who has participated agrees: Swamp Soccer is great, if somewhat muddy, fun. It is also one of the strangest and weirdest types of soccer played anywhere. Mýrarbolti in Ísafjörður, Iceland, is a swamp soccer competition and celebration unlike anything else on earth. The three-day down and dirty soccer competition features a muddy pitch where teams from all across Iceland and abroad participate in competitive tournaments and recreational matches. Opening and closing ceremonies, DJ sets and live musical performances are among the additional attractions. The sport is said to come from Finland where it initially was used as an exercise activity for athletes and soldiers, since playing on soft bog is physically demanding. The dirtier than dirty version of the “beautiful game” was recently voted the second weirdest type of football in the world. The standard football rules have been modified significantly to suit the demanding sport: check out the special rules here.

United Kingdom


The origins of croquet are a little cloudy.  Some believe that it developed from the French game of Pall Mall but arguments link Pall Mall more to golf than croquet. What is known is that the game traveled from Ireland to England around 1851. At first, croquet was most popular among women, it was a new experience for them to be able to play a game outdoors in the company of men. The game’s popularity grew in the 1860’s where garden parties began to be called croquet parties. Croquet is sometimes considered as a sport. It involves hitting plastic or wooden balls with a mallet through six hoops  embedded in a grass playing court. It has to be made in the right sequence in each direction and finish by hitting them against the centre peg. The side which completes the course first with both balls wins. But there are other variations of croquet currently played, differing in the scoring systems, order of shots, and layout. If you want to discover its traditional rules, click here!



Back in the 1950s and ’60s, rings was a common game in many Irish households. It dropped out of fashion at some point, but it appears to be making a slow comeback here and there. If you don’t want to play, just buy a ring board as it looks great on the wall of any lover of vintage pieces or nostalgia. Rings is simply a wooden board with 13 hooks mounted on the wall, at which you toss six rubber rings (like the small belts in old vacuum cleaners). Think darts, but a heck of a lot less dangerous if the rings bounce back. Like darts, you begin with a number (usually 301) and subtract each score. The egalitarian joy of rings lies in the way everyone in the pub competes. There is even a governing body for the game of Rings – World Ring Board Academy – and All Ireland Championships are still played. The rule may sound simple, but to avoid any arguments while playing, here are the general rules of Rings!


Norwegian Golf

Have you ever thrown two balls connected by a string onto a ladder? Maybe not, but you should. It’s very funny! The game was formally known as “Horsey Golf” when it was first created, but it is also famously known “Norwegian Golf”. The items needed to play are two ladders and a set of three bolas per team. Each ladder has three rungs, each rung scoring a different point value. The object of the game is to wrap your bolas around the steps of the ladder. One common method of scoring is to have the rungs be one, two and three points. In order to win, a player must be the only one to score exactly 21 points after the completion of a round. If a player goes over the exact point total, that players points for that round do not count. For example: A player with 18 points needs 3 points to get the exact score of 21 in order to win. Getting exactly a certain number of points, it sounds a bit like Mölkky! If you want to know more about the rules, just click here.



Midway between bowling, Mölkky and horseshoes, the Swedes had the bright idea to invent the Kubb, also nicknamed as the “Viking chess” due to the alleged Viking origin of the game. Its purpose is quite simple: players need to knock over wooden blocks, known as kubbs, by throwing wooden batons at them, known as “haselsticks.” Kubbs are placed at both ends of a small rectangular playing field, known as a ‘pitch’, and the ‘king’, a larger wooden block, is placed in the middle of the pitch. The ultimate objective of the game is to knock over the ‘kubbs’ on the opposing side of the pitch, and then to knock over the ‘king’, before the opponent does. The game in its modern conception became popular in the late 1980s when commercial kubb sets were first manufactured. It’s easy to make your own set, and it’s much safer to drink and play Kubb than it is to bring out your antique set of lawn darts. A set can be made with nothing more than a clothes rod, a 6 ft. 4″ x 4″ post and a saw ! For the complete rules, just click here!



It sounds old and quite traditional, but the Mölkky has actually been invented 20 years ago by the Tuoterengas company. It is reminiscent of kyykkä, a centuries-old throwing game with Karelian roots. However, Mölkky does not require as much physical strength as kyykkä, and is more suitable for everyone. Some of you may have played it already as the game became very popular throughout Europe over the last few years. But for those who don’t know it yet, it consists in players throwing a wooden pin (also called Mölkky) to try to knock over wooden pins (also called Skittles)  which are marked with numbers from 1 to 12. Knocking over one pin scores the amount of points marked on the pin. Knocking 2 or more pins scores the number of pins knocked over. The first one to reach exactly 50 points wins the game. Scoring more than 50 will be penalised by setting the player’s score back to 25 points. The rules are a bit more complicated then what you think. Discover them in full here!



If you are tired playing Icelandic, Swedish or French games which can be quite exhausting, here is a traditional Danish game which will bring you some rest and relaxation. Keglebillard, or in English ‘Danish five-pin billiards’, is a traditional game which remains predominantly played in Denmark.  It could be a derivative of Carom Billiards – at some point in the past, somebody may have decided to add some skittles to their usual game to spice it up and the result was Pin Billiards and possibly, Bar Billards too. It is played on a table which is the same size as a full-size Carom Billiards table, but with six pockets as per Pool or Snooker. In the middle of the table there are 5 pins, set in a ring. The game is played with 1 red ball and 2 white balls, just like Billiards but unusually, both players use the red ball as the cue-ball in this game, instead of the white balls. Points are scored by knocking over the pins for 2 points each and/or by “making the red” which means cannoning off both whites. Points are not scored by pocketing the balls at all. Sounds interesting? Discover the rules here!



This dexterity game is particularly popular in the Netherlands, where it originated, hence Sjoelen is the official designation for the game. Sjoelen is also less commonly known as Dutch Shuffleboard in English or Jakkolo in German. Playing involves each player having three rounds of sliding 30 wooden disks along a 2 metre long table in an attempt to get them through four arches numbered 1 to 4 at the other end. Getting disks into the low scoring compartments is just as important as the high ones because each set of 4 disks in the four compartments scores double (20 instead of 10 points). Despite Sjoelen’s popularity in countries such as The Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, the game is relatively young in comparison to its table shuffleboard ancestor. While shuffleboard tables date back to 16th century England, Sjoelen boards, or Sjoelbak, first started to pop up in The Netherlands in the late 19th century. Discover the full rules here!



In the province of West-Flanders (and surrounding regions), Trabol is the most popular variation of bowls and is mostly found in a hall next to a café. The game reached the peak of its popularity in the war years 1940-1945. As opposed to playing it on a flat or uneven terrain, the terrain is made smooth but hollow (tra just means “hollow road” in Flemish). The hollow road causes the path to be curving even more. The balls are biased in the same way as the lawn bowls balls but with a diameter of about 20 cm, a thickness of 12 cm and a weight of about 2 kg, they are a bit bigger than usual bowls. The length of the tra is about 18 m. Flat bowls is played in teams or individually. Contrary to Pétanque, players don’t have to reach a piglet, but an unmovable feather or metal plate target on the ground. The scoring is also different, as a point is awarded for every shot that brings the ball closer to the target than any opponent’s ball. This causes pure blocking strategies to be less effective. Trabol is mostly played up to 12 or 21 points. Here the simple rules!



Hammerschlagen couldn’t be more folkloric. Translated into English as “hammer striking”, it simply consists in several contestants trying to hammer a nail into a stump. Hammerschlagen is a variation of Nailspielen (“Nail Game” or “Playing With Nails”). Both versions are essentially the same, Nailspielen is played with an axe, Hammerschlagen is played with a cross-peen hammer or blacksmith’s hammer with a wedge-shaped (but not sharp) end on it. The log is set up waist high with the flat sides facing the floor and ceiling. A bright common nail (12/16d) is driven about a half inch into the wood in front of each player. Each player’s turn consists of setting the wedge-end of the hammer on the log next to their nail and taking a single swing at it. The swing must be done in a smooth up and down motion. Frequently, a player will bend their nail in such a way as to make driving it further nearly impossible. The object is to be the first one to pound in one’s own nail. To win, the head of the nail must be flush with or below the surface of the wood. Wanna play? Rules here



At first glance, Hornussen appears to be a mixture of golf and baseball – and yet it is much more – it is a typically Swiss game with a tradition reaching back to the 16th century. The team initiating this game beats the Hornuss, called “Nouss” (“Nut”) with sticks as far as possible into the opponents’ field. With a “shingle” attached to a long stick, held upright or thrown high, the opposing team has to stop the Nouss as soon as possible, and at the latest before it hits the ground. When hit, a Nouss can whizz through the air at up to 300 km/h and create a buzzing sound. Hornussen is primarily played in the Swiss plateau cantons of Bern, Solothurn and Aargau, but similar games used to be played across the entire alpine area. Popular among devotees since the 19th century, especially in the Mittelland region, the game remains a mystery even to many Swiss. Be aware that Hornussen has been invented by really tough farmers of the Swiss mountains, so it’s only to be played on your own risk. The rules here!



For thousands of years, the ruzzola has been a game practiced by shepherds and farmers, with a smattering of nobles, clergy and intellectuals thrown in. The game dates back to ancient times, as paintings in the tomb of the Olimpiade in Tarquinia attest; in the game, a ruzzola, a very hard and durable round of stagionato (aged) pecorino cheese in the shape of a discus, was launched down a track. Today, the ruzzola is usually a disc of very hard wood with variable diameter according to the local regulations, usually from 13 cm for a ruzzola to a giant size called a ruzzolone, even though a round of matured cheese is still sometimes used instead of wood. The game consists of winding a string or belt around the launching ruzzola and then holding one end of the twine to make a fast rotation. It is often a team effort: the players, divided into teams, alternate while trying to run the cheese as far as possible along the track. The races are held on defined paths, called treppe, specially chosen with hills, curves and obstacles to make the game more lively. Discover the rules here!



You’re probably gonna love Eisstockschiessen! This game, which means in German “ice-stock shooting” is played on ice in winter and on asphalt or other surfaces during the rest of the year. Very similar to curling and shuffleboard, the game became popular in Bavaria and Austria by the late 19th century. Teams consist of four players and one substitute. The rink is 28 metres  long and 3 m wide. Players slide cylindrical Eisstöcken (“ice stocks”) down the rink, aiming to come as close as possible to a Runddaube (“rubber ring”) inside a 6-m- long area called a house. The stock weighs from 4.5 to 6 kg, is about 30 to 38 cm high and 35.5 cm in diameter. Points are gained by being closest to the Runddaube after all four players have thrown their stock. Eisstockschiessen was a demonstration sport in the 1936 and 1964 Winter Olympic Games. There are clubs and associations in some 30 countries, including Canada and the United States. There are even national championships and an annual European championship. Read the simple rules here!


Tlučení špačka

Na špačka is a famous Czech game which was very popular in the 50s and 60s and looks like softball or English cricket.It would be translated as “beat the starling”. The equipment of this game consists in two parts. The first part is a piece of wood of about 10 cm wide 5 cm long, called the špačka (“the starling”). The second part consists of a stick or bar of a length of about 50-60 cm. Czech people play it ideally by team on a flat surface. The rules are not rigidly determined by anyone, there are many variations. One of them is to place the špačka on the ground. A player hits it on the top with his/her stick to pulls it into the air. With another blow, the player hits a second time the špačka in the air to send it as far as possible. Another variant of the game can be to hit targets. The winner is the one who is closest to the goal.



If you like football but also enjoy volleyball, Nohejbal is a game for you! It is a ball game that can be played indoors or outdoors in a court divided by a low net with two opposing teams (one, two or three players) who try to score a point hitting the ball with any part of their body except for the hands and making it bounce in the opponent’s area in a way that makes it difficult or impossible for the other team to return it over the net. This well-known and popular sport in Slovakia has a long history and is played on a recreational as well as competition level. Nohejbal came to Slovakia from the Czech Republic where it dates back to 1922 and where at that time it was popularly known as futbal cez šnúru or “football over the rope”. It was brought to Slovakia after the war, in 1945, by Prague footballers who used to come to the famous spa town of Piešťany for spa treatment. Official international competitions have been organised for decades. European championships have been held since 1991 and World championships since 1994. Rules to discover here!



Ringo was invented by Włodzimierz Strzyżewski, a Polish fencer and journalist, who demonstrated how to play the game while he was covering the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. According to the inventor of the game, “ringo is a gift for Poland and the world” and “the most democratic of all sports”. Ringo is played on a rectangular court with a raised net, similar to volleyball or badminton. Individual players or teams stand on opposite sides of the net and throw a small rubber ring back and forth, without letting it hit the ground. When it is played one by one, then there is only one ring, when more – two. The winner of the game is the person/team that will first score 15 points. To score a point the ring has to hit the floor on the opponent’s side. Players can catch the ring with both left and right hands, but they have to throw it with the same hand they caught it with. With the ring in hand the player can make four steps, then he or she has to throw it. Follow the complete rules here!


Komandinis slidinėjimas

Here comes an old Lithuanian game to play in parcs during summer. It’s the perfect game to organize with your colleagues on a teambulding session – unless they are all repressed. The Komandinis slidinėjimas or in English ‘Team skiing’ is actually an old game which is becoming very popular nowadays among young and old Lithuanian people. Players have to make skies not for one person, but for two, three, four, five or even more. To do this, players need two wooden boards and as many foot pieces of ropes as they want to have players. These pairs of ropes must be fixed on the boards so that players could attach their feet to the skies. Two or more players (the number of players depends on the number of ropes on the boards) put on the skies on their feet and tries to go together. The team which comes first to the finishing line wins. You can invent as many variation of this race as you want: Can they go backwards? Sidewards? Left? Right? The rules seems pretty straightforward, but it might be usefull to have a look at them here.



Latvians enjoy their national pocket billiards, or, as they call it Novuss. The board is approximately 100 centimetres square, typically made of wood, has pockets in each corner, and lines marked on the surface. The board is usually placed on a stand, but may be placed on a barrel or other surface that allows the pockets to hang down properly. It uses small discs instead of balls, and each player has his/her own small puck instead of the cue ball used in other cue sports. The winner is the first one to sink all eight of his/her object discs. Novuss is known that the game was first played in Latvia and Estonia. The game is recognized and declared to be the national sport of Latvia. It is known that novuss was played in Latvia since 1927. Seamen, while visiting ports of England, played a similar game (probably Carrom) in the local pubs. The first tables and rules were made based on drawings brought from England. The oldest known record of the rules of the game printed in a book dates to 1930 (book in Estonian, called “Korona õpetus”). Before that the rules were printed in Estonian magazines and newspapers



Remember when we were kids playing on the swing set and we’d try to swing so high that we’d fly over the top bar and come down the other side? No, I never made it either. But in Estonia, they’ve taken a childhood dream and made it an extreme game. It’s called kiiking. Using a special swing with steel arms instead of chains, the kiiker stands on the swing and pumps back and forth until he or she gets enough momentum to make a full 360-degree turn. The best kiikers can go around several times. Kiiking was invented in Estonia by Ado Kosk around 1996. He observed that it becomes more difficult to swing over the fulcrum as the arms of the swing become longer. He then designed and patented telescoping swing arms to gradually extend the arms for an increased challenge. The person able to swing over the fulcrum with the longest swing arms is the winner. If you think that kiiking is a piece of cake, then think again! You’ll need plenty of stamina and a bit of physical strength, because the longer the arms of the swing, the harder it is to swing! Rules and more here.



Gorodki is originally an ancient Russian folk game whose popularity has spread to many countries in the Northern Europe, the Baltics and Belarus. Similar in concept to bowling and also somewhat to horseshoes, the aim of the game is to knock out groups of skittles arranged in various patterns by throwing a bat at them. The skittles, or pins, are called gorodki (literally little cities or townlets), and the square zone in which they are arranged is called the gorod (city). If you used to play SimCity as you were young, you might enjoy the philosophy behind this game, as destroying little cities with a bat sounds like the opposite version of it! Although traditionally Gorodki is a folk game, it was played by such Russian historical figures as emperor Peter I, Vladimir Lenin, and Joseph Stalin, as well as cultural luminaries like Ivan Pavlov, Leo Tolstoy, Maksim Gorky, Nikolay Timofeev-Ressovsky, and others. So if you want to play it like Russians or Belarussians, follow the rules here!


гра в грубки (Stove Game)

The Ukrainian game of the stove requires speed, response and accuracy, but is rather a game for children. First children got to make few holes in the ground of the size of a small ball (rubber ball, tennis ball, etc.) and corresponding to the number of players. Each player stays near his “stove”. In priority order, the players throw the ball, to reach one of the holes (you can also dig a hole on a flat surface, and then the ball just rolled down slightly). The player, whose hole hit the ball, should have time to grab it and, without departing from the hole, throw in another player. Of course, the players try to get away as far as possible. If the ball hit the player, he grabs him and throws in another. This continues until someone misses. Then the ball is rolling again. Near the “stove” of the muff drawn stick, and so up to five marks. When a player signs five misses, his task is to take a stick near his hole, and touch it to the other players. When this happens, the game starts over.

Romania – Moldova


Very few know that the godfather of baseball is a Romanian traditional sport named Oină. The name “oină” is derived from the Cuman word oyn “game” (a cognate of Turkish oyun). Oină was first mentioned during the rule of Vlaicu Vodă in 1364, when it spread all across Wallachia. It is a sport that involves speed, accuracy, team work and sounds closer to cricket and baseball, having similarities with both. The basic rule is that there are two teams, with one of them batting and another catching. The game begins when the catching team throws the ball at a player from the batting team, who tries to hit the ball as far as he can with a wooden bat. Once he hits the ball, the batter must run the “back and forth lanes” before the catching team retrieves the ball. The “bat” in Oină is longer and slimmer and the defense can score by hitting the attacking players from the game. The Oină game takes only 30 minutes, while a baseball game takes about three hours. The rules are quite complicated. Have a look at them here.



Gombfoci is a kind of table football that is widely spread in Hungary and also Brazil and which would be roughly translated as ‘Button football’. This football simulation game is played on a table-top using concave “disks” or “buttons” as players. Board dimensions, markings, and rules of play are modeled to simulate standard football. Victory goes to who scores more “goals” with the buttons that represent players and the smaller button called ball. It dates back to the early 1900s, when football became popular. As a rule, in informal games and tournaments players could mix and match different kinds, sizes and color buttons. Later on, the game became more strictly formalized, dispensing with variety for the sake of standardization. Today there are dozens of button football clubs throughout Brazil and Hungary, rigidly structured, with regular tournaments at the local, state, and national level. The card-carrying members of the Hungarian national federation are 1500, with ages that range between 10 and 70 years old. Follow the rules here!



The Czech are not the only one to claim having a sport being regarded as predecessor of baseballThe Slovenians do also have a smilar game called Pandolo which is a traditional Istrian social and sporting game and considered as a “grandfather” of baseball. Two teams, each with three players, compete to take over a territory. The players use a wooden bat known as a maca to knock a short, sharp wooden stick or pandolo as far as possible from the base within a marked playing area. The goal of the game is to score as much points as possible by hitting the pandolo towards the end of the playfield. The team that has more points at the end of the game is the winner. In the Middle Ages pandolo was played in towns. But it was prohibited since the windows were very expensive. The town’s in Istra were suitable for this game because pandolo could bounce well on stone pavement. It was played in squares because they were spacious. Rules here!



Croatians are lucky enough to have beautiful beaches. So it comes with no surprise that one of their most famous traditional game is Picigin, a ball game from Split that is played on the beach. It is an amateur sport played in shallow water consisting of players keeping a small ball from touching the water. Players don’t catch the ball, they bounce it around with the palm of the hand. In 1908, split students returning from studies in Prague brought an “unusual” game called water-polo to Split beach Bacvice. But as the sea level on the Bacvice beach is pretty low, it was not possible for them to play water-polo, as it was supposed to be played.  It is believed that the unsuccessful attempts of playing water-polo at the shallow waters on the Bacvice beach eventually evolved into the game we today know as Picigin. Since Picigin is an amateur sport, there are no strict or formal rules, but it is played according to tradition, with little variation, but main goal is too keep ball in the air as long as possible. Some basic rules here!

Serbia – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Montenegro


Kupe probably appeared during the 19th century and was very popular in former Yugoslav countries. Kids used to play this game in the villages during summer holidays and early autumn when it was the season for walnuts. There are a lot of different names and variations for the game, such as Igra orasima, Kućanje, Kubanje oraha, Kulanje. Kupe focuses on precision throwing. Teams consist of equal numbers of players and the rules must be agreed upon before the game starts. Each player should have a minimum of 10 walnuts. At the beginning of the game each player creates 1 cone (or tower) made of 4 walnuts (3 of them as a base on the ground and one placed on the top of 3 walnuts). Cones are placed in the form of a rhombus with some distance between them. The player tries to topple the cone of walnuts from a baseline placed three to give meters away.  Striking a cone, a player has the right to take the whole cone which was hit down and takes the next turn to play. The game lasts until one of the players wins all the walnuts. 

Bulgaria – North Macedonia


Pay attention, this lawn game does not sound like a peaceful one! Players in Państwa -usually children, but adult with a certain sense of autocracy can play as well draw a large circle on the ground and divide it into several parts which are given the names of countries. Then one person stands in the middle of the circle and the others run away as far as possible in a few seconds. Then they stop and the person in the middle of the circle, who goes to war, takes a little ball and throws into a chosen person trying to hit him. If he succeeds, he can take over the other person’s piece of the country. While carving out a fragment of the country with a chalk, he must stand on straight legs – which makes it a bit more difficult. You would have guessed: the aim of the game is to “invade and occupy” the other countries’ territories. I told you, it’s not the kindest game of the list. At the same time, who never played risks?

Albania – Kosovo

Loja e kapuçave

Loja e kapuçave, the game of hats, is a true folkloric Albanian game. It is one of the most popular games not only in the region of Has, but also in other provinces of Central, North and Northeast Albania and the Plane of Dukagjin. The game is played among men, especially during weddings, late at night, after enjoying some dances and balaclavas. The game starts with two players, who, in turn, choose friends among the participants and form a team. The two groups sit in a circle. The first team hides a small grain of balaclavas under a tea cup. The opposing team has to find the hidden grain. If they find it, they get one point, if they lose, the lose one point. That’s the reason why the game can last long, about 1-1.30 hours. As a rule, the loosing team is forced to sit in circle without speaking, while the winning team stands around them and improvises songs which, in general, mocks the loosers, using some clichés. Usually the first verse is sung by the first player from the winning team and repeated by the rest of the team.

Greece – Cyprus

κρίκος (krikoi)

Credit where credit is due! It’s actually the Ancient Greeks who, again, invented one of the oldest lawn games in the world. Hoops, called krikoi in Greekwas a popular form of recreation and practised in the gymnasium. Back those days, hoops were probably made of bronze, iron, or copper, and were driven with a stick called the elater. The hoop was sized according to the player, as it had to come up to the level of the chest. The boys would roll them down the street running along side or have races. Though there are no images or written accounts, one can imagine that some rambunctious young Greek boy likely invented the Hula hoop 3000 years before Wham-O.  Greek vases generally show the elater as a short, straight stick. The ancient Greeks advocated hoop rolling as a beneficial exercise for those not very strong. It was regarded as healthful, and was recommended by Hippocrates for strengthening weak constitutions. But it was also a way to pick up! A hoop was a favorite gift given by a Greek man to the boy he fancied…


Çelik Çomak

A very widespread game with sticks is called Çelik Çomak and is similar to the Czech Tlučení špačka. Çelik is a small fairly thick piece of wood about a foot long, with each end pointed round off into a point. A longer stronger stick of three to four feet is called Çomak. A long narrow hole approximately two feet long, six inches wide, and three inches deep is dug in the ground. The Çelik is placed across it; one man raises the Çelik with his Çomak and sends it afield with a stroke and the other player tries to catch or touch it. If he succeeds in doing so, he gets possession of the hole and starts playing the game. If he fails, then the man who first sent the Çelik avails himself of the first chance. Nearly fifty different kinds of  çelik-çomak have been recorded. Sometimes sticks are thrown like a javelin to hit a target-usually a heap of stone or bricks; sometimes the players try to hit a target while they are running.

If you liked this article, you may also like: