Every year, on Easter Monday, a hare pie is baked in Hallaton Village and then paraded in a procession from the Fox Inn to St Michael’s Church. At the church, the pie is sliced, blessed and distributed to the people of Hallaton.
This custom started in 1770, when the Rector of Hallaton was given a piece of land on the condition that he provided two hare pies, two dozen loaves of bread and a quantity of ale, which had to be scrambled for in public. Although, the earliest records of this event dates back to the 1800th Century, there are some suggestions saying it started well before the Christian Era.
The Bottle Kicking Match
Behind the pie in the procession, are the three bottles that are used for the Bottle Kicking Match, that start immediately after the distribution of the pie. This tradition is said to have started during one of the scrambles, when the nearby town of Medbourne, came to steal some of the food and drinks being distributed. A fight emerged, which then became the tradition of the games played today.
The ‘bottles’, that are actually two wooden kegs containing beer and one keg that has been coloured white and black, gets kicked and man-handled by the competing teams from Hallaton and nearby Medbourne, in an attempt to get them across to respective goals, that are a whole mile (1,6km) apart. This makes the contest really tough, since the teams have to get the kegs across several hedges, roads, ditches and even barbed wire to reach their goal.
If you want to see the hare pie procession and the two teams fight for some barrels of ale, visit Hallaton in Leicestershire on Easter Monday (5th of April, 2010). The procession usually kicks off at around 10am.
– Towe –