The Traditional Children's Games of England Scotland
& Ireland In Dictionary Form - Volume 2

With Tunes(sheet music), Singing-rhymes(lyrics), Methods Of Playing with diagrams and illustrations.

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CHILDREN'S GAMES                           483
game, that all joining hands are of one side or party. If the line gets broken the players can run back to their own side. There are many other games which are played in a similar way (see Contest Games), though farther removed from the original form. In most of these we have practically the same thing—the sides have opposite homes, and the leader, though individual at first, becomes merged in the group when the line is formed, and the game ends by all the players being on one side. It must be mentioned, too, that in these boys' games of fighting, the significant custom of " crowning," that is, touching the head of the captured one, obtains. If this is omitted the prisoner is at liberty to escape (see "Cock," "King of Cantland ").
Although there is no dialogue between the opposing parties in these contest games, there are in some versions undoubted remains of it, now reduced to a few merely formal words called a "nominy." These "nominys" must be said before the actual fight begins, and the remains are sufficient to show that the nominy was originally a defiance uttered by one side and answered by the other. For these nominys, see "Blackthorn," " Chickidy Hand," "Hunt the Staigie," "Scots and English," "Johnny Rover," "Shepherds," "Stag," "Warney," &c.
The next most important games in line form are marriage games. In the well-known " Nuts in May " (vol. i. p. 424-433) there is a contest between the two parties, but the contest here is to obtain an individual for the benefit of the side. A line is drawn on the ground and a player is delibe­rately sent to "fetch " another player from the opposite side, and that this player is expected to conquer is shown by the fact that he is selected for this purpose, and also because the ceremony of " crowning " prevails in some versions. The boy, after he has pulled the girl across the line, places his hand on her head to complete the capture and to make a prisoner. This custom of "crowning" prevails in many games where pri­soners are made, and I have already mentioned it as occurring in the boys' contest games. If the crowning is performed, the capture is complete; if not performed, the prisoner may escape.

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