10 Weird Fun Activities From the Past That Look Totally Absurd Today

If you think that the generations living before computers were invented had a boring life, you couldn’t be more wrong. Both aristocrats and peasants were always ready to have fun and their ways of entertainment were not always as humane and safe as ours. However, even today we can find people who don’t behave reasonably while choosing their own ways of having fun and you’ll find out about them at the end of the article.

WeGoRo gathered 10 fun activities the previous generations liked to do. Many of them still exist today in slightly changed forms while others disappeared completely.

10. Board games

The first board games were invented in ancient times. For example, a board game from ancient Egypt called Senet is one of the oldest games in the world with a gameboard and pawns. The details of the rules are unknown, but, apparently, it was a 2-person game — like modern chess.

According to legends, Senet was invented by Thoth, the god of wisdom, who challenged Khonsu, the god of the Moon, and won a few extra days for the year. Thoth did it for Nut, the goddess of the sky, who couldn’t give birth to a child on any day of the year because of Ra’s curse.

Due to Thoth’s victory, the year was prolonged by 5 extra days and the Egyptians got a new game.

9. Gladiator fights

We all know perfectly well about these bloody public spectacles. But few of us know that not only men fought with each other and wild animals in the arena — there were women among the gladiators as well. However, they were usually viewed as paegniarius (play) gladiators who were mostly entertainers and not real fighters.

Deadly fights were so popular that all attempts to ban them failed until the year 404 when a Christian monk from the East, Telemachus, tried to stop a fight between gladiators. This action cost him his life — he was stoned to death by the angry crowd.

His sacrifice wasn’t wasted — the Emperor Honorius was so impressed by the monk’s martyrdom that he banned gladiator games forever.

8. Hoop rolling

A version of hoop rolling was popular in Ancient Greece and its numerous variations were also widespread in many parts of the world including Europe, China, America, and Africa.

The most popular one had the following rules: the player had to throw up a hoop in the air with a stick and catch it with the same stick. In some variations, there were 2 players who took turns to catch the hoop.

7. The stick-pulling game

The stick-pulling game was a common hobby in Europe during the XIII-XIV centuries. There were two main variants of it:

  1. A wooden stick served as a barrier between participants. Victory was declared when one of the contestants managed to make the other one bend their knees.
  2. The participants try to pull their opponent over the horizontal board between them, and the one who manages to do it first is the winner. Today this game is known as Mas-wrestling, and it is a Yakut sport.

6. Phrenology sessions

Phrenology, the study that proclaims that the structure of a skull determines a person’s character, has been treated as pseudoscience since its very appearance, as well as astrology and spiritism.

However, phrenology was a widespread popular movement in the period from the 1850s to the 1890s. Due to its popularity, a lot of traveling phrenologists appeared, and they always attracted great attention among people who were assured that phrenology could provide a biological explanation of mental processes.

5. “Giant steps”

Despite being quite unsafe, this type of entertainment was very popular among young people in the US and pre-revolutionary Russia. “Giant steps” comprised a post with a moving ring at the top to which several pieces of rope were fastened. The players caught the ropes, ran up, and went around the post.

Sometimes the construction was so big that children made really huge “steps” and if a player fell off of it, it was possible to be seriously injured.

4. Freak shows

Freak shows were even more popular than modern TV shows as the previous generations liked observing physically-disabled persons and sadly, making fun of them.

These shows provided a great advantage for their participants — freaks could earn a lot of money by demonstrating their defects in every corner of the world. For example, Julia Pastrana from Mexico was a very popular performer and singer in the 19th century.

3. The premature babies exhibit

This strange kind of show didn’t seem outrageous to parents because it helped to save their babies’ lives. Its purpose was to attract mass attention as at that time hospitals were not equipped with special infant incubators for treating babies properly, and medical facilities didn’t want to buy them.

For this reason, parents had to take decisive measures to popularize the necessary equipment. People would visit the exhibit of babies in glass boxes with great interest, and the money raised was spent on nursing salaries and the modernization of incubators.

As a result, thousands of lives were saved, and every maternity home got their own infant incubators.

2. The “Headless Girl” shows

Unusual shows with “living headless women” appeared in the US and Europe in the late 1930s. Those women were known as Olga, Tina, and Mademoiselle Yvette. The “doctors” tried to assure the audience that the women lost their heads in some accidents but they still could move with the help of unexplainable technologies.

Obviously, those girls had their own heads in the right place, and the illusion of their absence was created with mirrors and a certain angle of reflection.

1. Telephone booth stuffing

An unusual trend appeared in the 1950s all around the world: youngsters would try to squeeze themselves into phone booths one after another until no one else could fit in. They did the same thing with cars — for example, with a tiny Volkswagen Beetle. It’s hard to say where this fad came from, but it was quite fun for the participants.

Bonus: a crazy flashmob

Whatever the previous generations did to have fun, it seems that nobody thought of eating poisonous substances (except psychoactive mushrooms and plants) before.

The young generation of today is constantly trying to challenge themselves and their peers by introducing more and more dangerous activities. And recently they’ve started a flashmob on eating detergent pods as a kind of competition!

What did you think about these activities? Do you know of any crazy trends happening now? Share with us in the comment section below!

Preview photo credit Wikipedia Commons