The Everyday Lore Project

4 July 2020 – The Fourth of July

4 July 2020 – The Fourth of July

Today I’ve been having the best fun. It’s the Fourth of July, aka Independence Day in the US, aka my friend, Janet’s birthday. And to mark the date, one of my oldest and most brilliant friends, Karin suggested that I stage a watermelon spitting competition, because according to her, it’s a Fourth of July tradition in the US. So I did, with her and her husband, Henry in Westchester County, NY and my friend Susannah and me in Sussex. 

I love watermelon. I also love taking watermelon to parties so I can say I brought the watermelon. Unlike mangelwurzels, my local greengrocer does sell watermelon, and in slices, so I chose the most pippy looking one and popped it in the fridge.

But when it came to gauging out my championship seeds, I found them to be tiny. I remember watermelon seeds to be huge, crunchy and irritating. These were measly and mean looking and very unspittable. With only five minutes to the Zoom call, I raided the cupboard for a substitute. And found some currants. 

The weather in Westchester County looked lovely, unlike Brighton with its sea frets, gusting wind and drizzle (Barometer Watch: green water – no change, balloon jar – risen?). Karin and Henry had run their tape measure down their front path, stopping at the side walk. Susannah had hers going from the kitchen into the sitting room. And I had mine from the spare bedroom into the hallway. 

Pleasantries dispatched, the competition was on.

Round One

Susannah bravely volunteered to go first. Unlike the rest of us, she hadn’t managed to get hold of a watermelon so had gone for pumpkin seeds. Her first round score was a highly respectable 1.47m.

Karin was up next. She had thoroughly delved into her watermelon and found three proper sized pips. Previous competition experience showing, her first spit came out at 2.75m.

Then came me. I went with a currant. I asked for tips. The answer came back that for good projectile delivery, roll the tongue into a tube, and then get a load of air behind the pip prior to launch. I scored a 3.9m.

Henry was last. His first attempt got lost in the lawn, but his second came in at a devastating 5.7m. We were all very impressed. And jealous.

Round Two

With greater confidence, Susannah strode up to the oche and launched a 2.28m.

Karin bettered her first with a 4.34m.

I decided to try a watermelon pip and hit the doorframe. On my second attempt, I hit the wall above the door. On my third attempt, I switched back to a currant which I then spat into the towels hanging behind the door. I declared myself null and void.

Scout, Karin and Henry’s youngest daughter, briefly joined us with a 1.66m.

While Henry couldn’t quite reach the giddy heights of his first attempt, he did manage a 2.5m second time around.

So Henry was crowned Watermelon Seed King. A very well deserved title. And the whole thing was hilarious and totally cheered up a miserable looking afternoon. Then Susannah looked up the world record. 

75 feet and 2 inches. Or 22.9m (not 275m as I first put!).

We stopped laughing. We all have a lot of practice to do before the rematch next year. 


You see, it’s dead easy to suggest folklore or a tradition for me to do! Just get in touch.

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.