Have you read Donny, Mary Grace and the Ugly Marbles yet? If so, you’ll be interested to know that World Marbles Day is coming up!
I’m serious. There really is a World Marbles Day and it has been commemorated since 1588! That’s right, World Marbles Day has taken place on Good Friday for almost 200 years longer than the United States has been a country. This year, World Marbles Day will be on April 7.
Now, I’m not going to say too much about the role that marbles play in Donny, Mary Grace and the Ugly Marbles because I don’t want to spoil the plot for those who haven’t read it yet, but I will say that it’s a significant one.
As for World Marbles Day, it commemorates the first British Marbles Championship from 1588, and it includes a story line that is worthy of its own novel. It’s said that two young suitors, Giles and Hodge, took part in a week-long athletics and skills contest in Tinsley Park, West Sussex, to win the hand of a milk maiden named Joan. With victories tied at six apiece following a wide array of contests that included archery, wrestling, cricket-a-wicket, stoolball and cudgel play, it was decided that marbles would be the tie-breaking – and final – event. Giles is said to have won the game, as well as the hand of Joan. The fabled event made Tinsley Green the British marbles capital and events were held there every year between the 1700s and 1900, when the game began to lose popularity. The event was eventually revived in 1932, when it was named the official British Marbles Championship. It was renamed as the British and World Marbles Championship in 1938. The team and individual events now draw competitors from all over the globe. In 1992, a team from the U.S. – the TennKy Sharpshooters from Tennessee and Kentucky – became the first overseas team to win the trophy. Teams from Germany have won the event 11 times since 2002. Oh, I should probably point out that trophies are awarded to the winners now instead of fair maidens.