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The Not so Clear History of Kubb

When something great is created there is a line of people looking to take credit. Everyone wants a piece of history which often creates debate. There are Gutenberg and the printing press, Marconi and the radio, and the Vikings and Kubb. Yes, the great game of Kubb has an origin steeped in mystery. Most often this game is described as one created by Viking warriors who made the game from the bones of conquered foes. People playing today practically envision themselves wearing furs and throwing a femur at the line of skulls.

If this is the vision you would like to retain then now is the time to stop reading. The reality of Kubb’s creation is slightly less exciting and still not totally clear. There are records of Skittles games, where something is thrown or rolled to knock some pins down, throughout history. Variations vary greatly by location and time period and what was on hand at the time. In the case of Kubb, there is no definitive answer to its creation, but the most likely story is woodsman in Sweden created it to keep their kids entertained. Kubb translates to “block of wood” in Swedish so more than likely the game has always been a form of throwing sticks at blocks.

This game's lore, which has lingered in history for centuries is first officially described in 1911 in a Swedish Encyclopedia “Nordisk Familjebok.” By the 1930s the game is widely played throughout Sweden with an explosion of popularity in the 1980s. It is not until the early 2000s before its popularity begins to grow in the United States. Now the game is played at backyards barbecues throughout the country and a regional tournament is likely close by. As you venture out to find a game of Kubb to join feel free to dress as a Viking but please leave the bones at home.


Sources: (Tag Toss & Run: by Paul Tukey & Victoria Rowell) (Yard Games from Around The World: by Phil Dickinson)