History of the Chook Raffle
Meat raffles are commonplace in many parts of the world. Mostly a European thing, they currently take place in pubs across England, Australia and even South Africa which was a British colony. To look at the history of the chook raffle, we first have to look at the history of the raffle itself, as the two are one and the same.
A raffle is a gambling competition whereby people of any age can buy a ticket with a number on it in the hopes of winning a prize. At a predetermined time, all the people who have bought the tickets gather, and an authority of some sort does a random draw to see which is the winning number. The owner of that ticket then collects the prize. Raffles are generally held to raise money for a cause, be it a charity or even a personal cause.
Raffles themselves been around in one form or another since the beginning of human civilisation and records of them can be found in most ancient civilisations on earth. In the Old Testament in the bible Moses tells us that he used a lottery or raffle to award the land west of Jordan to his people. The ancient Babylonians and Romans took it one step further and used bones or die to choose their winning tickets. Ancient China invented a whole game called Keno, which is a form of lottery or raffle and used the proceeds to build the Great Wall. In Europe in the 1400’s the monarchy held raffles whereby you could win prizes like tapestries, china and cash.
Today raffles are mainly used by churches, pubs and small community organisations to collect funds for various projects. I am specifically ignoring lotteries in this as although they are in fact a form of raffle, they are on such a large scale as to almost be a separate species.
The chook raffle itself started in Britain and was called a meat raffle. This was during World War Two, when German submarines were stationed off the coast of Britain mainly to stop the import of supplies like meat, in the hopes of starving the country. Due to this, meat was severely rationed. Organisations started to raffle of meat packages to people who could afford the tickets, and of course this became a very popular thing to do. Australia, being a British colony, took to the idea of meat raffles like a duck to water. Or a chook to grain. Chook is the Australian slang word for chicken, in case you are wondering what on earth a chook is. So a chook raffle is a meat raffle involving a chicken.
Chook Raffles Today
Many years ago the chook used to be very much alive, but in today’s chook raffles it is usually a frozen bird. Chook raffles take place in pubs all over Australia, and are not so important today as they were during wartime, mainly due to the abundance of chooks in every grocery store and the lack of chook rationing. They are however a great excuse to get together and have a few beers with some mates. Sometimes the chook is even barbecued after the raffle at the very pub that raffled it. To enter a chook raffle is very easy. First you have to find a pub or venue that is holding one. These are usually advertised in local newspapers. Then you go to the venue, and buy a ticket for the raffle. The winning ticket will be drawn, and if it is yours, then you win the chook!