Saturday 12 December 2009

Advent 12: Hallaton Bottle Kicking

Each Easter Monday the villagers of Hallaton, Leicestershire, with assorted hangers on, meet to beat themselves up in an ancient ritual. The photo shows the moments after the vicar 'distributes' hare pie on the steps of the church (this actually means throwing it into the crowd indiscriminately) and the crowd turns towards the village green. On the left the master of ceremonies holds a staff with a hare on top of it, the three 'bottles' or barrels are carried aloft and later fought over; there is much noise and merriment. Two teams then assemble on a hill outside the village and engage in what seems like a rule free scrum which results in noise, injury and a winning team. All in all a fine example of traditional English rural madness.