Down the Hill in one of the world’s most stupid events
It’s a clouded May Monday afternoon in Cooper’s Hill, Gloucestershire (a county in the south-west of England). Almost 4 Kg of cheese jump happily on the grass, down a hill. A beautiful ballet of human bodies fall behind it, like ragdolls. Well, ragdolls aren’t able to get dislocated shoulders, broken legs and cracked ribs, but people are, and people can also only stop rolling at the end of the hill, where a group of rugby players volunteer to hold the competitors and take care of more severe injuries. The person who rolls until the end first, wins the cheese.
The Cheese-Rolling Race is an annual and historic event. The tradition is centenary and no one knows exactly why it started. It is believed that the event was part of spring celebrations. Reports also suggest that rolling after things on a hill was a pagan habit. Some say that people roll after cheeses at least since the 15th century.
From 1941 to 1954, due to food rationing because of the Second World War, the festival organizers had to build a wooden cheese with a small piece of real cheese inside – The only permission granted at the time by the Food Ministry for the race. When real cheese could finally be used again, an 18 Kg one was specially produced for the event.
The tradition continued year after year, being organized by volunteers and made for residents nearby. But in 2009, when more than 15000 people showed up for the event, health and safety issues started worrying local authorities who decided to officially cancel the cheese event of 2010.