International Tug-of-War Day


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One of the simplest of sports, dating back to ownership disputes over food and clothing, the history disappears into legend with the Sun and Moon wrestling over light and darkness.

Most cultures have references to competitions of strength that involve pulling in opposite directions which can be found on stone carvings, in ancient texts and legends. Vikings used animal skins stretched across a fire pit if any more incentive to pull were required. When tall ships were common on the seas a ‘tug ‘o’ war’ was a common way for sailors to show their prowess with heavy rigging.

Dropped from the Olympic Games in 1920, Tug of War still remains a Worldwide sport and many nations have their own governing bodies. Aside from formal competitions ‘pulls’ feature at many fairs and festivals. Spectators are encouraged to cheer on their favorite side. Join in Tug-of-War Day by organizing your own event, or getting involved in another!

Tug-of-war is a competitive sport that takes place around the world and has a long and ancient history. Two teams hold each end of a large rope and attempt to pull the other towards them in order to win. Contests often take place over bodies of water or muddy areas so that the losing team suffers the indignity of falling in, which is preferable to the Viking version of tug-of-war when teams competed over a pit of fire.

The number of people taking part can vary from just a few to a large crowd, with the world record for a single tug-of-war standing at 1,574 participants. It is not surprising that such a popular event has its own annual day; Tug-of-War Day. Cries of ‘heave’ are heard around the world on a day when numerous matches take place, giving a chance to take part or cheer on this timeless team game.


Form of Entertainment

Tug of war tournaments are a popular form of entertainment in French chateau gardens.

Tug of War (Literally)

Seamen and ship crew are required to tug ropes to adjust the sails of a ship.

Let the Games Begin!

Tug of war enters the Olympic Games as an event.

No Longer a Segment

Following a number of controversies, tug of war is dropped from the Olympic Games.


  1. Tug of war dates back in time … way back

    Although tug of war doesn’t have an official date of invention, it’s obvious from ancient drawings that versions of tug of war have existed for thousands of years. Egypt, China, India, Japan, Korea, Hawaii, and Greece all have a history of tug of war games. Sometimes, participants would hold a stick instead of a rope. And sometimes they’d interlock arms and pull on each other. Ouch.

  2. It’s a simple game to play

    One of the best things about tug of war is that it’s a simple game. You just need a length of rope and a group of people. You don’t have to have a specific length of rope and you don’t need a specific number of people. Wearing gloves to protect against rope burn is a good idea though.

  3. It’s good exercise

    Tug of war can be a good way to build muscle and core strength as part of an exercise routine. Warriors in China trained using tug of war as early as the eighth century B.C. And if that was good enough for ancient warriors to prepare for battle, tug of war can be good enough as part of your modern battle against the bulge.


Year Date Day
2021 February 19 Friday
2022 February 19 Saturday
2023 February 19 Sunday
2024 February 19 Monday
2025 February 19 Wednesday

International Tug-of-War Day

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