While they may not be as popular today as are video and board games, there are several games traditionally played in Saint Lucia that do not need anything except hand-eye co-ordination. From “Chiney” (Chinese) skip to hopscotch, marbles and tiki-tok, children can be occupied for hours.
The game of marbles is universal but every neighbourhood in the world has its own rules. Here in Saint Lucia, marbles used to be sold in January at Assou Square (a venue for New Year celebrations) in little netted sacks. A long time ago the marbles had to last the year and by December kids were salvaging broken and chipped ones for a match.
One of the more popular methods for playing the game here was to line up a few marbles and set up the stakes, whether it be buttons, rocks or pennies, in a triangular shape at the end. Each person would take turns to flick his or her marble to hit another one in the line and whoever’s touched anything in the triangle, would win the stake.
There was only one type of marble that was easily found — clear with a coloured wave in the centre. Sometimes, less common marbles like a gros cax (a marble about four times the size of a regular one) would be put in the stakes too. When it was time for a second round of the game, each person had to measure from the spot their marble last landed, with the length in between their thumb and index finger, and then flick their marble from that point. This nearly always led to confusion and accusations of cheating because everyone’s hand is a different size.
Just like marbles, this game’s rules vary depending on where you live in Saint Lucia. The standard aspects of it are the stones and that they’re supposed to be thrown in the air at some point.
Each player has to find twelve pebbles of about the same size, not too small or too big — an issue that will forever be up for debate. To commence, everyone cups their stones in their palm, throws them into the air and then quickly flips their hand to catch as many as possible on the back of their palm. The person with the most would start off the game. Using all the pebbles now on the ground, everyone takes a turn to throw one stone in the air and pick up as many stones as possible from the ground before it falls back down. They have to catch the lone stone too — similar to jumping jacks. The person who collects the most stones (most possibly the person with the biggest hand) would be the winner.