Reindeer games showcase ancient celebrations

Blanket toss
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Students in an Honors College seminar course demonstrated old-fashioned reindeer games for the campus and community November 30 near the Cook Carillon Tower.

With reindeer from G&G Reindeer Farm in Caledonia nearby, Eric DeVries tried to entice participants to join his high-kick game, in which participants try to kick a block of wood that is suspended several feet above ground. DeVries said the game was created by Inuit people who lived in the Arctic region of Canada.

“Their games had more meaning than just winning or losing,” said DeVries. “They did this to celebrate a seal hunt or whale hunt.”

Other classmates presented Inuit and Saami (Scandinavia) games like lassoing reindeer antlers, blanket tossing and caribou jumping. They are enrolled in John Kilbourne’s seminar, “In Search of the Meaning of Games in Life: A Journey to the Circumpolar World.”

The reindeer games were supported by the Frederik Meijer Honors College, Padnos International Center, Student Services, and President’s Office.