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Saturday, November 21, 2020

What Did Peasants do for Entertainment in the Middle Ages?

Ever wondered what peasants did for entertainment in the Middle Ages?

Most villages at the time had a gathering place in the center of town.

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People often came here to play games like skittles which is like modern bowling, drink, work on chores, or tell stories.

Drinking

Drinking was very popular. It did cost a few pence but it was also possible to ferment your own alcohol.

Sex

Sex was always popular. It did not cost anything if done with one’s spouse and not a prostitute.

It also had the bonus of frequently producing offspring workers for your farmstead.

Entertainment in the Middle Ages

Stories and Jokes

In what little leisure time they had due to the demanding agricultural work, peasants would often gather to tell stories and jokes.

This pastime has been around since the hunter-gatherer days.

Story-telling was commonly done by anyone in the town center or at the tavern.

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People also met here to enjoy the holidays. They celebrated more holidays than we do today.

Music and dance

Music and dance is as old as humanity itself.

The peasantry could not afford to pay professional musicians but plenty of people knew how to dance and sing and enough people knew how to play instruments to have a jolly good time.

Occasionally, actors might come to town and put on plays and dramas.

Hunting and Fishing

Hunting and fishing were used to gather food but was also used as entertainment and something people did for enjoyment.

Decorative Arts

Decorative arts were applied to clothing, housing, religiously symbolic objects, etc.

Embroidery, pottery, basket weaving, carpentry, leatherwork and woodcarving were common skills, often with division of labor by sex.

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The art work was not only used for practical use but for aesthetic purposes also.

Sports

Sports, including martial arts were also practiced commonly.

There were many medieval tournaments allowing people to compete and demonstrate their physical skill in sports like running, log-tossing, or stick-fighting.

There were also team events such as kicking a stuffed leather ball.

This was entertaining for both participants and spectators.

Festivals

Festivals were both opportunities for economic exchange and watching the street performers to keep the gathered masses entertained.

They usually only came a few times a year and only lasted a few days.

Religion

Weekly church services and other church-sponsored events were social gatherings where friends met.

Most Christian church holidays were celebrated with elaborate rituals and feasts where peasants got to each much better food than they usually ate.

This food was provided by the Church and the nobility.

The church provided public letuters, opportunities to view great art and perform soothing rituals which was designed to be pleasing to the eye, ear, nose, and spirit.

There wasn’t much reading going on; few other than the aristocracy and the clergy could read, and books were insanely expensive, all being copied laboriously by hand.

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