Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fun Greek Games To Play WIth Your Family

We recently had a family visit one of our Greek restaurants for a little Greek Heritage. Turns out this cute little family recently started a fun tradition called ‘Explore the World’ where every month or so they research a new culture. They dive right in with a bit of historical research and then proceed to bring some of their research into their lives. They dress up, they eat common foods and they play games. What a fun, budget friendly, way to bring the big wide world into your home.

In honor of this idea we thought we’d share a few fun Greek games you can share with the kids in your life.

1. Ephedrismos was a popular game whose name is derived from the Greek word for “sit upon.” Two
players place a stone upright on the ground and throw other stones at it from a distance. The player
who fails to knock over the upright stone then carries the other player on his back while the winner’s hands cover his eyes. The pair runs around in this fashion until the losing player touches the stone.

2. Morra is a game still played in some parts of Europe, particularly southern Italy. Two players make a fist behind their backs and at a signal extend their hands, displaying a certain number of fingers. The first player to call out the correct total number of fingers shown wins the game.

3. Greek children also loved to play a game called ostrakinda. The name of the game is derived from
that of the shell that is used during play. Greek children would take a shell and smear one side black.
They referred to this side as “night,” while the blank side was “day.” The children then drew a line,
divided into two teams, and decided which team was night and which day. One player would toss the shell, and the side whose color came up chased the other team. Anyone caught was forced to carry his pursuer on his back. Plato is likely making an analogy based on this popular game when he writes, “So this, it seems, would not be the whirling of a shell in the children’s game, but a conversation and turning about of the soul from a day whose light is darkness to the veritable day.” Variations of ostrakinda are still played in Europe. English children play a version called “Crusts and Crumbs,” French children one called “Le Jour et La Nuit,” and Austrian children a game called “Schwarz-Weiss.”

4. Greek children enjoyed playing episkyros, also known as ephebike—a sort of rugby-football type game. The players divided into two teams. Each team stood on one side of a line drawn on the ground. A goal line was drawn behind each team; the two sides then fought to reach the other side’s goal line.

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