Beginnings of the Hash House Harriers
Merriam-Webster's 2002 Online Dictionary provides the following definitions, which seems like a good place to start:
- hash house [hásh haus] (plural hash house·es) noun (1869)
- 1. an inexpensive eating place
- harriers [har-E-erz] noun (1542)
- 1. any of a breed of hunting dogs resembling a small foxhound and orig. bred for hunting rabbit
- 2. a runner on a cross-country team
That said, here is a brief summary of where the Hash House Harriers came from, and what they are all about. More great information can be found at the links following this article.
In the beginning...
It was a time of turmoil. The Germans had just invaded Austria. The ball point pen was being invented in Argentina. Orson Wells' "War of the Worlds" was panicking a pre-war America. And strobe lighting was introduced to a world not yet familiar with the causes of epilepsy. The year is 1938.
Out of the chaos emerges our hero and Founder, a dashing Brit named Albert Stephen Ignatius Gispert. Master Gispert, or "G" as he would come to be known, is living as an expatriate in Kuala Lumpur. As Kuala Lumpur (in what is now Malaysia) is a rather dull locale, G assembles a small group of fellow expats to partake in the traditional sport of the paper chase.
Meeting at the Selangor Club Chambers (a local social establishment), the group incorporates the traditions of both the paper chase and the children's game of Hares and Hounds (similar to Foxes and Hounds). After a hearty bit of exercise, the group retires to the Selangor to enjoy some adult libations.
Interest in the running group grows, as does its membership. Before long, the group is meeting regularly and has garnered the notice of the local citizenry and government. An obscure ordinance requiring social organizations to enroll with the Registrar of Societies is enacted, and the group is forced to succumb to the demands of this edict. Seeking a worthy name for his ragtag band of harriers with which to register, G turns to the Selangor for inspiration. The Selangor Chambers Club has become the favoured rendezvous for the group, and has provided many hours of restful respite and inebriation.
Known most for it's uninspiring board of fare, the Selangor is commonly referred to as "the Hash House." And so is born the Hash House Harriers.
The Kuala Lumpur Hash House Harriers describe the goals of the Hash in their 1938 Charter:
- To promote physical fitness among our members
- To get rid of weekend hangovers
- To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer
- To persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel
The Hash House Harriers have since spread to the four corners of the globe, and the best estimates are that there are almost 1500 active houses worldwide. A Hash House can be found in almost every country and most major cities, and Hash House Harriers (or Hashers) can be found virtually everywhere. The United States of America currently has the most known Hash Houses with almost 400 recognized kennels.
More great information about the origins of the Hash House Harriers, as well as their modern day descendents, can be found at these links: