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Bizarre Victorian Parlor Games

Having researched dozens of antique books on Victorian parlor games, looking for suitable party game ideas for my children, I regularly come across games that seem bizarre. The following games are a sample of those Victorian parlor games that have safety issues, appear unnecessarily embarrassing to the participants or have other unusual characteristics by today’s standards.

Poor Pussy Cat

The first game, “Poor Pussy Cat”, would come under the general heading, today, of “embarrassing yourself”. Indeed there are many examples of these types of games, which today only the very young would play, whereby the main object of the game (activity) is to act in a highly unusual manner for the amusement of the party. In Victorian times these ’embarrassing’ games were regularly played by adults (both young and old).

The actual game of Poor Pussy Cat is played by selecting one member of the group to be the Poor Pussy Cat. The selected person, playing the Cat’s role, then goes around the room on all fours purring and rubbing up against people, just like a cat. The main goal of the othe pussy888 r ‘players’ is to stoke the Cat and utter the phrase “Poor Pussy Cat”, keeping a straight face all of the time. Should one of the party, stroking the Cat, smile or laugh then they would take the ‘Cats’ place and the game continues.

Snap Dragon

This Victorian parlor game, usually played in the winter months especially around Christmas, typifies the ‘Dangerous’ category of bizarre parlor games. The game is simple enough to play in that raisons are placed in Brandy which is then set on fire and the party guests have to pluck out a raison and pop it in their mouth. For extra ‘affect’ this game is played in a darkened room to give the individuals a devilish appearance as flames come from their fingers and mouth. The raison is ‘extinguished’ when it is in a closed mouth although there are reports of burning to both the fingers and face of those playing. Here are a few lines from a popular song (meant to be sung when playing the game), which further illustrate the experience and “fun” which can had with this simple game:-

With his blue and lapping tongue

Many of you will be stung,

Snip! Snap! Dragon!

For he snaps at all that comes

Snatching at his feast of plums,

Snip! Snap! Dragon!

Are you there, Moriarty?

The final game on my list of bizarre Victorian parlor games typifies the brawling activities that so many of the young Victorian males entered into to impress girls at parties (some things never change!). I have come across other versions of this particular game, also called “Blind Man’s Biff” as well as games with a small variation which also involved men hitting each other with rolled up newspapers or cushions.

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