December 2020 – play again!

Christmas – philatelistic goose game – San Marino 2003

This time a philatelic piece that fits well into the Christmas season. Not only because it depicts Christmas motifs, but also because it reminds us to pause in this crazy time and just play. Becoming a child again….

Goose game (17th century)

On 24 October 2003, the San Marino Post Office issued a set of 16 Christmas-themed stamps on a stamp sheet depicting a board game based on the traditional game of goose.  The 16 stamps are arranged in a concentric sequence ending in the middle of the sheet. The stamps are numbered and represent the traditional 25 days until Christmas.

The game itself – the Goose Game – is a traditional board game, and is one of the oldest and most widespread board games in Europe. It is considered the prototype of many modern dice and running games. The origin of the goose game seems to go back a long way. For example, the ancient Egyptian game Mehen (meaning “rolled up”), which has been handed down since 3000 BC and whose circular board has the shape of a rolled-up snake, can be understood as the forerunner of the goose game. However, the origin of the game of goose – as it is known today – can be traced to 15th-16th century Europe, where it was popularly played at court. At the end of the 19th century, the game changed into a children’s game.

Modern goose game

Dices on a cancel (USA)

The rules of the game are very similar all over the world.  All players start from square 1 on the outer edge of the board, roll the dice and move their geese (pieces) the appropriate number of squares towards the goal in the middle. The first player to reach the “goose garden” (field 63) is the winner. The playing field is a spiral. The spiral is one of the oldest eternity symbols and is regarded as a reflection of infinity and life. In addition to the numbers on the dice, the game is influenced by the event fields: The players advance by lucky coincidences, climb ladders or find shelter in hostels. Shortly before the goal, the path becomes more difficult, the players are often thrown back, for example through labyrinths or prisons. It is a constant back and forth – just like in life. The target field is the field with the number 63. In ancient times, the 63rd year of life was considered the most dangerous in a person’s life. Each additional year was believed to be a gift from God. Incidentally, the unlucky field “58” has the checksum 13, certainly no coincidence. 

Goose game depicting a journey along the Rhine

Goose game (1944) depicting the success of the Allies in the II. WW


Over the years, countless variants of the Goose Game have been created, differing mainly in the theme and the design of the game board, while the 63 playing fields and the position of the special fields are mostly the same.

Basically, you could also play this game over Christmas on the stamp block, you just need a dice.

Sources: wikipedia –