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Parlour drinking games of old

By Lia Sanders on 26/12/14 3:00 PM

We tend to think of Christmas Day as the culmination of the Christmas period but by this day our ancestors were only just getting stuck into the revelry, counting down the 12 days to the Epiphany with daily feasting, dancing and merriment.

Parlour games were the old fashioned way to have fun – in the dark days of winter and throughout the year. In many games alcohol played a key role, such as Snap Dragon, which involved a bowl of brandy being filled raisins and then set alight. The aim of the game was to fish the raisins out without being set on fire oneself.

“High jinks” comes from the name of a Scottish dice game that was popular in the late 17th century. The person who rolled the lowest number would have to perform for the others – if they failed to do so they had to have a drink.

In France, a specially designed puzzle jug was the basis of a drinking game from the 14th century onwards. Holes were an important part of the design and participants were meant to drink from the jug without spilling any of its contents on themselves.