In my husband’s family, in rural England, Christmas Day must involve playing Pooh Sticks after Christmas lunch. This is the game Winnie-the-Pooh devised in The House at Pooh Corner (the game that author A. A. Milne created for his son Christopher Robin Milne).
The game of Pooh Sticks involves dropping sticks off a bridge into a flowing river, then seeing whose stick reaches the other side of the bridge first. It is, very loosely, a race. It is, almost certainly, a game of chance rather than skill.
- First step: get yourselves to a bridge over a flowing river.
- Everyone get a stick. Some say it should be willow, but my husband played by the rules that everyone chooses what they think will work best. Winnie-the-Pooh used a pine cone. What you find near the river is the right thing to use. Just make each stick different enough that it’s easy to tell the difference between them as they tumble down the stream.
- At the prearranged signal (“One, two, three, DROP!”), each person drop their stick off the up upstream side of the bridge—NO throwing allowed—and run to the downstream side of the bridge.
- First stick under the bridge wins.
- Repeat, switching spots to make sure the same person doesn’t get the advantage of the current each time.
- Final step: go home. Drink wassail or hot chocolate. (UK option: listen to the Queen’s speech.)
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