Depending on where you come from, you may call carousels by another name, perhaps: “merry-go-rounds”, “flying horses” or “roundabouts.”
They have been popular rides for the past 200 years, but they started off as military training machines. In fact, the word “carousel” comes from the Spanish word, carosella, which mean “little battle.”
This name was fitting because carousels were originally used to train knights to use their swords while riding on a horse that moves up and down. Objects were placed along the outside of the carousel; the knights tried to stab the objects or catch them on their swords.
Jousting competitors also trained on carousels, but, when Catherine de Medicis’ husband was killed in a sudden jousting accident (or “lost” as they called it back then), the carousel quickly became a safer form of entertainment. Crowds would watch as entertainers would catch objects on their swords and travel in circles until they got dizzy.
That sounds more boring than actually going to a mid-evil times restaurant, so spectators naturally wanted a shot at riding the carousel and even catching one of the objects on their sword. This is how it became the popular amusement ride it is today.
In fact, a small number carousels still exist that have an obstacle as part of the ride. On these carousels, riders will try to grab a brass ring as they ride around on the carousel. There are steel rings as well, and those are often thrown at a target to discourage people from keeping them as souvenirs. The brass ring can often be redeemed for a prize, which is usually a free ride on the carousel.
This is also where the term, “catch the brass ring” comes from.