Undoubtedly the best non-sport sport of the summer hits town today. Cheese Rolling is deceptively simple: an 11-pound wheel of cheese is rolled down a hill and everyone chases it like a bunch of mad dogs chasing a bunny on speed. Many see no need to question the origin or purpose of cheese-rolling, safe in the knowledge that the sport is so aesthetically unique and eye-catchingly perilous as to require no logical justification. But it should be noted that rituals involving the throwing of objects down hills (or over cliffs) are known to have dotted the history of the more pagan-influenced communities in Britain throughout recorded history, usually as part of a healing or exorcism ritual (similar to the releasing of a ‘scape goat’ in ancient Judaism). For example, some contemporary wassails in Herefordshire still conclude with fires (lit in the tree branches to eradicate demons) being rolled down the hill into the River Wye.
So, Cooper’s Hill cheese rolling may be the remnant of an annual cleansing ritual. However, since the races were accompanied until recent times by the scattering of fruit cake across the ground by the Master of Ceremonies – a ritual known to have links to ancient fertility rites – social historians are still scratching their heads. Although the English have been Cheese Rolling for centuries on Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire, Canada now has its own traditional festival of cheesy delights – done Canadian-style!
Whatever…all we know is that the lucky winner gets to keep the big-ass cheese wheel, and gets two ski season passes to Whistler Blackcomb to boot.
Of course, that’s just the race. The whole Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival includes family activities, games, tastings and lots of fun ways for you and your family to enjoy Canadian cheese.
The Cheese Rolling Festival this August 18th, from 12 to 4 PM, at Whistler Blackcomb!