Wednesday, December 12, 2012



A parlour game that I would love to try this Christmas is Snapdragon. In England during the 19th Century (and I'm sure prior) it was usually played on Christmas Eve (or Twelfth Night) and was also popular in Canada and America. Though in America it was traditionally played on Halloween.

All you need to play Snapdragon is a wide, shallow bowl, plenty of raisins, brandy and a match. Yep, you have to love those Victorians for lighting alcohol on fire in the parlour! The object of the game is for everyone to stand around and take turns fishing out the raisins and popping them into their mouths to put the flames out! Think of the hysterics of those attempting to grab a raisin from the flaming liquid! I think it would be a riot!
In Francis Grose's 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (which I highly recommend browsing through) snapdragon is defined as: "A Christmas gambol; raisins and almonds being put into a bowl of brandy, and the candles extinguished, the spirit is set on fire, and the company scramble for raisins."
Free on Kindle
1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue

According to Robert Chamber's Book of Days (1st published in 1864), there was a poem or song that was sung while playing. 

The Song of Snapdragon
Here he comes with flaming bowl,
Don't he mean to take his toll,
Snip! Snap! Dragon!
Take care you don't take too much,
Be not greedy in your clutch,
Snip! Snap! Dragon!
With his blue and lapping tongue
Many of you will be stung,
Snip! Snap! Dragon!
There is probably a very good reason this tradition fell out of favour but I find that the idea of playing at least once can't be missed! If I'm fortunate enough to find willing participants this Christmas season I will make sure it's well documented with video footage and pictures for sharing!
"Mischief Managed" ~ Kelly

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