Alati hondro | Greece

Name in Original Language

Αλάτι χοντρό

Area Where Played

Greece

History

Alati hondro is a Greek traditional children’s game belonging to the universal “musical chairs” category of games. The name of the game (meaning “coarse salt”) is taken from the rhyme that is being sung during the game. The game has ancient origins; a variation is attested in Greek antiquity as σχοινοφιλήνδα (schoinofilenda), a name deriving from the word σχοινί (schoini, rope) that was used during the game.

Detailed Description

This traditional game is widespread all over Greece and originates in Antiquity. Above all, it requires speed and agility. It is played mostly outdoors on a smooth and level ground, where a group of children can sit on the ground forming a circle. As the game requires agility rather than strength, it is being played by both boys and girls, often in mixed groups; it is, however, mostly popular among girls, aged 7-11.

Rules

A group of children sit on the ground forming a circle and facing towards the inside. Behind them, another child, the so-called “mana” (mother), walks round the circle holding a handkerchief and singing the rhyme: “Αλάτι χοντρό, αλάτι ψιλό, έχασα τη μάνα μου και πάω να τη βρω. Παπούτσια δε μου πήρε να πάω στο χορό, και αν δε μου τα πάρει, ο κούκος να την πάρει!” (Coarse salt, fine salt, I’ve lost my mother and I’m going to find her. She didn’t buy me shoes to go to the ball, and if she doesn’t buy me any, let the cuckoo get her!) When the “mana” drops the handkerchief on the back of a sitting child, the latter stands up and tries to catch the “mana” running around the circle. If the “mana” succeeds in sitting down in the place that has been left vacant by the child before being caught, the second child takes the handkerchief and plays the part of the “mana”. In the ancient variation of the game, a piece of rope was used instead of a handkerchief.