Thursday, April 27, 2017
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The Old Bear: Children's Game for Christmas

Many people in their e-mails ask me about any traditional games or pastimes for children, especially during the Christmas season.
The whole selection of the pastimes and children games is included in a revised edition of the wonderful book about Polish Customs and traditions written by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab's entitled Polish Customs, Tradition and Folklore. But this book does not specify any particular game especially for the Christmas season.

Here is one play which I remember I recommended to another mom asking me about Polish plays for children and for other people and they found it wonderful to use it. It is also related to winter and Christmas season because it has to do with a bear who is deeply asleep, like usually bears are in winter.

The Old Bear (Stary niedzwiedz)
(Polish text is marked in italic)

Children chose one person as a bear. The bear is sitting in the middle of the circle pretending that he is asleep and it is snoring loudly, while other children are walking in a circle and sing:

Old bear is sleeping deeply,
Stary niedzwiedz mocno spi,

Old bear is sleeping deeply,
Stary niedzwiedz mocno spi,

We walked on our tiptoes as we're afraid of him,
Na palcach chodzimy, bo sie go boimy

When he'd wake up he would eat us!
Jak sie zbudzi to nas zje,

When he'd wake up he would eat us.
Jak sie zbudzi to nas zje.

Then, children stand round thogether and recite:

The first hour (passed) - the bear sleeps
Pierwsza godzina - niedzwiedz spi,

The second hour (passed)- the bear snores
Druga godzina - niedzwiedz chrapie,

The third hour - the bear wakes up and he's catching us!!!
Trzecia godzina - niedzwiedz budzi sie i lapie!!!

Then the person in the middle pretending to be a bear stands up and tries to catch somebody while children break a circle and run away trying to escape. The caught person is a new bear and the play repeats!

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This is Brande from Uganda with a photo of Ela, my daughter.

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