Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: May 18, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971935 | Print ISBN: 9781412966702 | Online ISBN: 9781412971935| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Europe, 1600 to 1800
Christine M. Walker
In 17th-century Europe, rich and poor alike shared a passion for play. Men and women from all rungs of social hierarchy bowled, played tennis, played cards, gambled, danced, and went to town fairs. The majority of Europeans still lived in rural areas, worked on small farms, and followed the seasonal rhythms of the year. Working in groups, they sang songs, told stories, or played games to relieve the monotony of shelling, spinning flax or wool, hoeing, mowing, and harvesting. Though people adhered to traditional recreations, economic changes, political upheavals, and religious contests transformed play. A more commercial, secular, urban, and individual-oriented life spawned novel, affordable games for children and adults. New sports, holiday resorts, cultural events, and literature enriched, and also erased, traditional forms of play. Increasingly, Europeans produced goods for national and international economic markets, rather than local communities. These economic changes sharpened the distinction between work time and ...