The tradition of the Haxey Hood began in the 14th century when, according to local folklore, the silk riding hood of Lady de Mowbray was blown away by the wind. Workers in nearby fields chased after the hood and caught it, but the catcher, being too shy to hand it directly back to the lady, passed it to another to present to her. Lady de Mowbray, amused, declared that the second worker had acted like a lord, but the first like a fool, and presented 13 acres of land for the event to be re-enacted every year.
Now, 650 years later, the chase still takes place. The Hood (a leather tube) is thrown in the air and teams from four local pubs attempt to direct it to their own hostelry. The hood cannot be carried but is pushed and pulled in all directions in the ‘Sway’, a giant rugby scrum of around 200 people. The Sway moves slowly, regularly collapses and tramples everything in its path. Eventually, after a few hours, the Hood arrives at one of the pubs where it is kept until the next year. Costumed characters (The Lord, The Fool, and the Chief Boggin) preside over proceedings and attempt to bring some sort of order to the contest.