Drop the Handkerchief

  • A player is chosen to be “it” and given a handkerchief. Other players sit in a circle, facing inward.
  • The "it" starts walking clockwise around the circle singing a nursery rhyme. At some point the “it” slyly drops the handkerchief behind one of the sitting players. Players sitting in the circle are not allowed to look behind but can only check the ground with their hands. As soon as a player finds the handkerchief behind, he/she takes it and starts running around the circle in the same direction to tag “it”, while "it" aims to return to and sit in the spot left by the other player.
  • If "it" succeeds to sit in the spot without being tagged, the player with the handkerchief becomes "it" and the game continues in the same manner. If the player with the handkerchief manages to tag "it", the “it” takes the handkerchief and remains as “it” for another round.
  • Drop the Handkerchief seems to be one of the oldest known games and is found throughout the world. Many variations are played in America, Africa, Europe, and Far East. In one of them, e.g. as played in France, the "it" is the Postman or Mailman, and delivers a ‘letter’.
  • The history of the game is uncertain though. As to one of the rather popular versions of the game, “Duck Duck Goose”, there are many different claims as to where it has originated in; such as USA, Germany, Sweden, Ireland. Interestingly the game seems particularly associated with Minnesota, US.
  • Regarding the same version, another thing frequently questioned is the name of the game: “Duck Duck Goose” or “Duck Duck Gray Duck”? According to one interesting view the correct name is “Duck Duck Gray Duck” and it refers to fairytale The Ugly Duckling (1843). If this theory has any truth to it, given the Danish author of the fairytale and that Minnesota is the state with highest population of people in the US with Scandinavian origins, it may give some hints at least as to Western origins of the game.
  • Here are a few examples to various rhymes sung in the game:

I dropt it, I dropt it,

a king’s copper next,
I sent a letter to my love,
and on the way I dropt it.
Putting down a hanky
Don't tell anyone 
I have worked the whole night
Two pairs of shoes I finished
One of cloth and one of leather
Here I will put down my hanky.
A tisket, a tasket,
A green and yellow basket,
I wrote a letter to my love
And on my way I dropped it,
I dropped it, I dropped it,
And on my way I dropped it.
Somebody here has picked it up
And put it in your pocket;
It isn't you, it isn't you . .
It's YOU!"

  • Finally, below are two pretty distinct interpretations of the tune sung in the Turkish version.