Christmas Game in Times Past
I remember playing Oranges and Lemons at Christmas parties. Adults sang the nursery rhyme while the children hurried to beneath an arch formed by two adults holding up their arms and holding hands.
“Oranges and lemons say the bells of St Clements,
You owe me five farthings say the bells of St Martins,
When will you pay be say the bells of Old Bailey,
When I grow rich say the bells of Shoreditch,
When will that be? say the bells of Stepney,
I do not know says the great bell of Bow,
Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
Here comes the chopper to chop off your head."
When the last line came close the children increased their speed in an attempt to avoid being caught when the adults lowered their arms to trap one of them. The child would be asked to choose oranges or lemons and then told which adult to stand behind. My memory fails. I can’t remember how the game ended.
In the mediaeval era there was a tug of war between those who chose oranges and those who chose lemons.