Here's a version of "How Many Miles to Babylon" from Wales, collected around 1894...

Game Instructions

Two children choose two words representing each of them. Then they join hands while standing face to face with their hands raised up in front to form an arch. The other players form themselves into a line by holding onto the waist of the person in front. They go up to the 2 forming the arch and recite the first line of the rhyme. Then the 2 kids respond with the 2nd line. They go back and forth reciting the lines like this until the last line. Then the line of players pass through the arch. The two bring their arms down on one child passing under the arch.

The two then ask the "prisoner" to choose between the two words they chose in advance and the "prisoner" responds with one of the words and goes to stand behind the one he has chosen. When all the children have been caught, each line pulls in a game of Tug of War to see who is the strongest.


Please email me to let us know if you're familiar with this version and where you played it. Thanks! -Mama Lisa

Thanks and Acknowledgements

This version can be found in "The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Vol I of II) with Tunes, Singing-Rhymes and Methods of Playing" (1894) by Alice Bertha Gomme. Also found in "Folk-lore Record," volume 88.