Game of graces

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Early drawing of girls playing Graces.

The Game of Graces was a popular activity for young girls during the early 1800s. The game was invented in France during the first quarter of the 19th century and called there le jeu des Graces.[1] The Game of Graces was considered a proper game benefiting young ladies and, supposedly, tailored to make them more graceful.[2] Graces was hardly ever played by boys, and never played by two boys at the same time, either two girls, or a boy and a girl.[3]

How to play[edit]

Graces is played with two people. Each person gets two rods, four in total. Then, one of the players takes a wooden hoop and, pushing apart the two rods, makes the hoop fly in the air for the other player to try and catch it. The winner is the player who catches the hoop ten times first.

Mastering aiming and catching can be very time-consuming. To throw the hoop, one takes the hoop and, with one rod in each hand, places the hoop over both of the rods so as they are inside of the hoop. The player would then let the hoop slide slightly down the rod and cross the rods in an X shape. Ideally, the hoop should be on the lower triangle of the X shape. Then, pulling the rods apart, the hoop will quickly slide up and shoot away from the player, towards the direction aimed for.

The hoop is generally 9 inches (23 cm) in diameter and decorated with different colored ribbons. The ribbon, used to make the hoop softer to catch, is wrapped all around the hoop in alteration with the ends left hanging off so that they will slow the hoop down in the air.[4] The dowel rods are 15 inches (38 cm) to 2 feet (61 cm) long. Some rods come to a point.[5]

Modern times[edit]

In 2011 System Enterprises, a toy company based in Florida, introduced a game called RingStix which can now be found in several specialty toy stores across the United States. The concept is the same, but the rods have been replaced by curved sticks and the wooden ring by a plastic glow in the dark ring. [6][7]