Cootie Catchers

Cootie Catcher, Cootie Catcher, where did you come from? And why?

According to this site (which features an instructional video on Cootie Catcher fabrication), Cootie Catchers came from Japan and have been around for at least four centuries.

"Earliest reference...appears during the beginning of the Edo period (early 1600s) in Japan, when mass-produced, low-priced paper became available and the art of paper folding became widespread. There is earlier reference to similar ceremonial and functional origami pieces - in one instance used to serve dried spices. First mention of this folded amusement in European history also occurs in the early 17th century, although it remains unclear whether this particular piece was introduced from Japan, or arose spontaneously from within the European folded paper craft movement."

As to why? My guess is that it has something to do with fun, and magic. The magic part is an example of what one might call "Praeternatural Play." For some reason, we take great pleasure in fortune telling games. We know they're games. So we don't really believe them. And yet, we kinda really do. This is what Colin Campbell calls "Half Belief."

Whether you belief is half, whole, or not at all, knowing how to make a Cootie Catcher can only be a good thing. Here, therefore, are animated instructions with a downloadable print and fold template.

If your Cootie Catcher question is urgent, here's a virtual cootie catcher for your immediate, and clearly questionable gratification.

Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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