Every year, near Gloucester in England, hundreds of people from all across the globe gather to watch a group of brave individuals chase a wheel of cheese down Cooper’s Hill. This crazy, annual event is called The Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, and it has been going on for over two decades.
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It originally took place on Whit Monday, or Pentecost Monday, also known as Monday of the Holy Spirit. This is celebrated the day after a moveable feast called Pentecost. The CHCRW was later transferred to the Spring Bank Holiday, which is basically a day off in the UK and some other places prompted by the Bank Holidays Act of 1871. It is commonly used for Good Friday and Christmas.
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The origins of the event are debated, with one suggesting it comes from a requirement for maintaining grazing rights on the common. The other proposed reason for the event comes from pagan origins for the custom of rolling objects, such as bundles of burning brushwood, down the hill. Food was traditionally involved as a fertility rite to encourage the fruits of harvest. Either way, it gets more and more popular every year.
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Competitors race down the steep hill after a roughly 8 pound wheel of Double Gloucester cheese. And it’s even more dangerous than it sounds. The event provides first aid services and volunteer help for the number of injuries that happen every year. These typically occur when people lose their balance. On top of all this, the CHCRW isn’t the only ceremony of its kind, there’s another one in Chester that has been around since 2002. Theirs is to promote the town's food and drink festival, but due to the safer setup, no injuries have been reported in 12 years.