We love games of all shapes and sizes, and guess what? So does the rest the world. This is part of a larger project to document a homegrown game from every country in the world.
Mice are chiefly nocturnal creatures who recompense for their poor eyesight with a sharp sense of hearing and smell. The latter sense dovetails into our mythologizing of the animal through stories and games. The mouse is often portrayed as a curious and precocious character, not unlike young children. As such, it makes sense that in Denmark toddlers and school-age children often play a Christmas food game called Mus (or “Mouse”).
The game is associated with pebernødder (peppernut) cookies, which are basically sugar cookies. They are traditionally the size of small nuts, and made with spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and pepper. Below, I describe this simply delicious party game, as told by my wife’s mormor (grandmother) Vera.
NAME: Mus (Mouse)
PLAYERS: At least 3
ITEMS NEEDED: A bunch of pebernødder cookies
1. Children form a circle around a pile of cookies, which are the “mice.”
2. One child lines up about 10 cookies.
3. Select one of the players as “it.”
4. With eyes closed, “it” waits while another player secretly selects one of the “mice.”
5. The “it” player must then begin to eat the “mice,” one after the other, until arriving at the selected cookie.
6. When the “mouse” is selected, the other children scream, “Mouse!” or “Mus!”
7. Select someone else to be “it” and the snacking begins again.
8. The game continues until you run out of cookies or the children are too full of treats.
Photograph by John G Meadows