Christmas Games

AuthorJohn Johnson Marshall
SourcePopular Rhymes and Sayings of Ireland
Section Chapter XIV (2) - Start of Chapter

In bygone times it was a favourite amusement for children to collect pins at Christmas time, to use as stakes, the game being played by spinning a teetotum, or by guessing. This is a rhyme that was used in guessing. One of the players took a pin and placing his hands behind his back concealed the pin in one of them, then holding out his hands in front, the other player points with his finger to the other’s hands at each word repeated:—

“Pippty, poppety play me a pin,

Open the door and let me in,

Let me lose or let me win,

This is the hand the pin lies in.”

If the hand that he pointed to when saying the last word of the rhyme held the pin the rhymer won it—if not he paid a pin as forfeit. Where this game was too slow for sporting characters there was a quicker way of winning or losing pins. One player concealed a number of pins in his hand and said:

“Peep at the bush!”

“I’ll break your smush,” was the reply,

“How many times?”

If the number given was correct the guesser won, if not, an equal number was forfeited.

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Previous Boys' Games
Contents Popular Rhymes and Sayings of Ireland
CategorySocial History

Popular Rhymes and Sayings of Ireland - 3rd Edition

Order a paperback copy of the 3rd edition (2015) of Popular Rhymes and Sayings of Ireland which is based on the text of the 2nd, revised and greatly enlarged edition of 1931.

Apart from extending the range of rhymes and sayings to more counties, this edition also includes sections on food and boxty rhymes, weather and moon rhymes, charms, plant lore and riddles.

The book is also available as a Kindle download.