|During the Middle Ages the main holidays that
were celebrated were Mayday, Midsummer's' Eve, Harvest Home, Christmas, and Easter.
Often these holidays were celebrated by a great
banquet. After the meal was served acrobats, dancers, jugglers, and minstrels would
entertain the guests. A troubadour would chant and sing stories. The fool, or jester, wore
a costume that was half one color and half another. He had a cap that had bells hanging
from it. The jester would tell jokes about the noble classes and did funny things.
|These holidays were celebrated by taking time
off work to go to banquets, special church services, and festivals.
Indoor games included chess, checkers and backgammon.
The lords and ladies liked to play music, sing, and compose poetry.
Listening to storytellers' while embroidering was a popular pastime of the ladies.
Children played Hide and Seek and Blind Man's
Bluff. Noble children played marbles or Bocci.
Bocci is a game played on a small patch of lawn. It is played between two
players or two teams of players. The object of the game is to roll your four
Bocci balls closest to the jack, a smaller golf ball sized ball. The youngest
person tosses the jack on the lawn and then one by one everyone gets two chances
to roll their balls as close to it as they can get. The team with the ball
closest to the jack wins the frame. They receive one point for each ball that is
closer to the jack than the opposing teamís closest ball. The game is played
until a specified score is obtained by one of the teams. This is usually between
7 to 13 points.
Winter sports included archery and broad jumping. The children even
tied small animal bones to their feet and ice skated.
One outside sport was hunting. Only the royal had the right to
hunt or fish whenever they pleased.
Falconry became a popular sport of the nobility in
the Middle Ages.
In this sport noblemen trained falcons, hawks and occasionally eagles to hunt
for game. The falcon was taken from its nest before it learned to fly. It was
then trained to hunt for its owner. Most of time the prey is too large for the
falcon to carry, so it is the falconís job to lead its owner to the prey. The
falconer would usually end up with a good catch of rabbit, quail, and other
On the first day of the tournament the knights would
compete in jousts. A joust was a single combat in which pairs of knights rode full tilt at
each other with 10 foot long lances. The knights were dressed in full armor. If a knight
was knocked to the ground he forfeited his armor and horse. The knight had to pay a ransom
to get them back.
Later companies of knights battled in mimic warfare called
By the end of the twelfth century the tournament was the favorite
pastime of the feudal lord. All manor residents and neighbors would be invited to attend.
Knights and nobles would set up their pavilions, large round colorful tents, on a field.
Over the pavilion tent banners flew to show the rank of a contestant (count,
marquis, or baron). The contestants carried shields with coat of arms.