Bottle-kicking is an old
Leicestershirecustom that takes place in the village of Hallatoneach Easter Monday.cite web
title=The Folklore Year - Easter
accessdate=2007-06-25] Records of bottle-kicking date to the late 1700s, but the custom is thought to originate much earlier, from before the Christian era.
Origin and history
Local lore claims that the custom began when two ladies of Hallaton were saved from a raging bull by a startled hare, distracting the bull from its charge. They showed their gratitude to God for sending the hare by donating money to the church on the understanding that every Easter Monday, the vicar would provide a hare pie, twelve penny loaves, and 2 barrels of beer for the poor of the village.cite web
title=The Hallaton Bottle Kicking Legend
The Hallaton villagers would fight each other for the food and drink, and on one occasion, the residents of the neighbouring village of Medbourne joined the fray and stole the beer.Fact|date=June 2007 The Hallatonians cooperated to retrieve the spoils, thus beginning the village rivalry that continues to this day.
Bottle-kicking has been an annual tradition for over 200 years. The tradition has been cancelled only once in that time, in 2001 because of concerns over
foot and mouthdisease.cite news
title=Ancient tradition saved by village
accessdate=2007-06-25] Legend has it that the rector of Hallaton, opposed to the tradition because of its pagan origins, tried to ban the event in 1790. However, he relented the next day, after the words "No pie, no parson" appeared scrawled on the wall of the vicarage overnight.
Procession and hare pie scramble
The event starts with a parade through the villages of
Medbourneand Hallaton. Locals carry a large hare pie and the three "bottles", which are actually small kegs or barrels. Two of the bottles are filled with beer; the third, called "the dummy", is made of solid wood and painted red and white.cite web
title=Quirky British Events for 2007
month=December | year=2006
work=Bottle Kicking and Hare Pie Scramble
The pie is blessed by the Hallaton
vicarbefore being cut apart and thrown to the crowd for the "scramble". The rest is placed in a sack to be carried up the nearby Hare Pie Hill.cite web
title=Medbourne Tourism Page
work=Harborough District Council Web Site
publisher=Harborough District Council]
The bottles are then taken to the Buttercross (a conical structure with a sphere on top, used for keeping butter and cheese cool when the village was a market town) on the
villagegreen to be dressed with ribbons. Here, the penny loaves are distributed to the crowd.cite web
title=Introducing Hare Pie Scrambling and Bottle Kicking
There are virtually no rules to the bottle-kicking. In the early afternoon, the hare pie is spread on the ground at a dip at the top of Hare Pie Bank, which is possibly the site of an ancient temple. [ [http://www.le.ac.uk/users/grj1/morrell.html St Morrell of Hallaton] ] Each bottle is then tossed in the air three times, signaling the start of the competition.cite web
title=Starting the Game
work=Hallaton] Each team tries to move the bottles, on a best-of-three basis, across two streams one mile (1.6 km) apart, by any means possible.
The contest is a rough one, with teams fighting to move the bottles over such obstacles as ditches, hedges, and barbed wire. Broken bones are not unheard-of, and emergency services are generally on standby.cite news
title=Bottle kicking krazy
Those unfamiliar with the rivalry between the two villages might feel that Hallaton has an unfair advantage with regard to the geography of the ground over which the bottle-kicking takes place.Fact|date=June 2007 However, any advantage results from the natural evolution of the event into a game and is not deliberate.Fact|date=June 2007
The bottle-kicking scrums are the highlight of a full day of merrymaking by the residents of both villages. Many participants have several pints before joining in, and people join and leave the scrum as they please, often for some quick refreshment with family and friends.Fact|date=June 2007
Several families from each village are especially vested in the contest, taking it upon themselves to participate in the game from start to finish to win a barrel for display in the local pub.Fact|date=June 2007
After the game, participants and spectators return to the village. Those players who put in an especially good effort (for example, carrying a barrel across the goal stream or holding on to a barrel for quite some time) are helped up onto the top of the ten-foot-tall Buttercross, and the opened bottle is passed up for them to drink from before being passed around the crowd.
The festive day normally draws to a close with participants and spectators retiring to pub for drink and banter.Fact|date=June 2007
Haxey Hooda similar sport from Lincolnshire.
Ba gamea game played in towns in Scotland.
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leicestershire/2947763.stm Ancient tradition saved by village]
BBCnews story, (14 April, 2003)
* [http://www.hallaton.org/bottlekicking.html Bottle kicking and hare pie scrambling]
* [http://www.philpreen.co.uk/silliness/bottlekicking.htm An eye witness account]
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