We have been talking about how life was in the middle ages. Every day was a struggle at that time, and people worked very hard just to stay alive.
Everyone needs a time to smile, relax and enjoy themselves. This is true in my novel, where the world is full of evil creatures trying to eat you. So if you are fighting off monsters and stuck in the middle ages, what do you do? You enjoy the same entertainment that people did during the real middle ages.
There were numerous games that people played to enjoy themselves. One which is in my novel is called Nine Men’s Morris. It was a game invented in ancient Egypt, and a variation of it still remains with us today. This is a strategy game which consists of a board with grids. The grid has 24 points, and each player has nine pieces. A player wins by reducing his opponent’s pieces or leaving him with no legal moves.
There were many other games and sports played during this time. Colf was a precursor to Golf. Gameball was a sport where two teams played and the object was to bet the ball into the opponents net. This may have been an earlier version of rugby or soccer. There were no rules to this game, in fact, the word “Game” is derived from the English word for “Fight.”
Fairs and festivals held games and competitions for people to enjoy and participate in. Originally, the fair was a place for people to gather to worship. The word fair or faire comes from the Latin word “feria” which means holy day. The original fairs were feasts, which were promoted by the church, and as a result became very commercial and profitable for them.
These holy days soon turned into trade fairs, where merchants gathered to exchange goods and information. To gather more people to these fairs to sell their goods, games and entertainment were added.
Tournaments soon were added to the fairs also. Archery was a major competition, and in some cases everyone in the kingdom was allowed to enter. Joisting tournaments were also included into the fairs, which brought more spectators to the fairs to see knights compete.
Holiday festivals were also very important during the medieval times. In my novel, I describe the celebration of “Adam and Eve’s Feast Day.” Christmas Eve is a day many observe as honoring Adam and Eve. On Christmas Eve, it was common for people to bring in a fur tree, which represented the tree in the Garden of Eden and decorate it with apples; the apple of course representing the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Some of these traditions actually pre-dated Christianity, but the previous explanations for these customs were adopted by the church.
So now we understand that although it was a difficult period to live in, the people in the middle ages still had the ability to engage in a little entertainment. Perhaps this was their greatest achievement, not the castles, or the cathedrals that were built, but their ability to live and enjoy life, even if it was for a little time.
Next time: Dress for Success in Medieval Times