What does “echo rand (0,5)” mean?

Thanks for the question, Daniel Gurtner!

“Echo Rand” was a favorite game of children in medieval times. Especially popular throughout Northern Europe and for some reason in what is now Laos, it consisted of one blindfolded child being surrounded by many of his or her playmates and the occasional village idiot. The blindfolded child was the “rand” of the game; “rand” being how people used to say “grand” before, in 1632, the letter “g” was invented.

“I’m rand!” the child would cry out as the blindfold was put upon him. (The crying part was usually real; the only cloth available in those days was rough burlap.) Once the rand was securely blindfolded, he would call out any single word he chose. The other children would then have to repeat that word; they would have to “echo rand.” Once the rand heard where the others were at, he would try his darnedest to stab them with the large pointed stick he was holding. What fun would ensue as the other children scrambled and hid behind one another in a desperate effort to avoid being lanced.

The “(0,5)” is more properly written “(0-5),” and indicates the number of children the rand was allowed to spear. At five, even the village idiot undertood it was time to give someone else have a chance.

The game of Echo Rand is acknowledged by many historians to be a big reason why during the Middle Ages so many children grew up dreaming of the day they could wear a suit of full-bodied armor.

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