St Columb, Cornwall
On the 24th February, the shout will go up “Town and country do your best. But in this parish I must rest”, marking the start of another annual game of Cornish hurling.
Most of the town’s shops and businesses will prepare for the event by boarding up their windows to protect them from the silver coated ball which is ‘hurled’ throughout the streets and local countryside.
No one knows exactly where the Cornish game came from. There are some suggestions that it originated in Ireland and made its way to Britain in the 12th century. Others suggest that it is linked to a fertility rite celebrated by Pagans, or that it is a derivative of a handball match which used to be played all over Cornwall.
What is sure, is that only two remaining towns now play the game – St Ives and St Columb. Despite this, hundreds of spectators will turn up to support the event and watch as two teams “battle it out” for possession of the apple sized ball (manufactured locally from applewood coated in silver).
The merriment then continues well into the evening, with the winner touring the local pubs and consecrating gallon jugs of beer by dipping the silver ball into them.
For more info, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornish_hurling