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An early 16th century game played by Danish children in western Denmark. Referred to by the Danes as "mudret stok" meaning literally "mud cane"; this translation was mistaken and the American term "poking mud with a stick" was born. Of course, this is not to be confused with "dødbider" which translates to the American term "stick in the mud". The rules have remained the same threw the centuries, as well as the uncommon theme that the activity possesses. Unlike the widespread idea of winning that convolutes many of today's pass times, mudret stok is a noncompetitive group activity. It is distinguishable by a circle of children in a half-crouching position, in which the back is horizontal with the ground. Each child is allotted one stick of similar length, about a meter or three feet, but it is said that the earlier players would have played with canes reaching up to three and a half meters across. The most common misconception of this game is that it must be played in a grubby environment, by today's standards this is simply not true, but for authenticity proposes it will be described as such. The rules are reasonably simple; each child, while in a half-crouched position, holds their respective stick, in hand, with elbow slightly bent. The child then thrusts the stick into the wettened dirt repeatedly; eventually, the stick's end becomes heavy due to the accumulation of soot. After a short amount of time the weight of the stick's end becomes unbearable and the child is, in turn, able to rest and compare time and stick weight with the other children. As stated earlier the game is not competition based, instead it was an activity created to get Danish children together during the warmer summer months.
Despite its underground popularity, poking mud with a stick will never be an Olympic event.
by Sean Baja Morris August 26, 2008
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