Monday, March 16, 2015

The inside scoop on Mäuseroulette

I sometimes find myself afflicted with a sense of insatiable curiosity and must know how things work. Upon reading an account from B., of the blog Ami in Schwabenland, about Mäuseroulette (mouse roulette), I had to know more about it.

She wrote a charming description of the game that was available at the medieval Christmas market in Esslingen. Basically, there is a ring of small medieval-looking houses set up on a table. Bettors place stones on top of the house of their choice. The proprietor lets a pet mouse free and it runs into a house at random. The bettor who had placed her stone on that particular house wins. How cute, huh?

I recently heard the "inside scoop" on the game and was completely thrilled about that because it helped to satisfy my curiosity. I met a German woman who is a seamstress and craftsperson who spends about six months of the year traveling to medieval markets to sell her wares.

Her son runs a Mäuseroulette game at her booth. I asked her if the houses have a snack inside (the word "snack" often makes more sense to Germans than the word "treat"). Oh no, the lady said; the mouse just runs into a house at random because it doesn't like being out in the open.

This family's mouse is not just a tool of the trade; she is part of the family. They have a cat too, and I smiled when the owner told me that they held the mouse up to the cat, saying that the mouse is family and is not to be eaten.


  1. The mystery is solved!! Poor little mouse just wants to be left in peace. At least we know the game isn't fixed by use of snacks. No wonder they try to fill the wheel (and sometimes it takes a long time to lure in enough bettors); if the mouse runs into a house without a stone, no one wins. That wouldn't be good for business. I love the whole "instructing the cat not to eat the family mouse" bit! :-)

  2. I thought that the cat thing was so cute, too :) She said that the cat is actually afraid of the mouse!