Bingo! That call-out is not just an exclamation of surprise or victory. Indeed, it is a beloved game that has united people across generations and countries. National Bingo Day honors this timeless game that has evolved from a simple lottery in 16th-century Italy to a digital phenomenon in the 21st century.
History of National Bingo Day
The roots of Bingo trace all the way back to around 1530 in Italy, where “Il Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia,” developed an amusing game of chance that captivated the masses. The game had made its way into the hearts of the French population by 1778, where it was called “Le Lotto.”
After centuries of popularity in Europe, it made its way across the Atlantic to the United States around the early 1920s in the United States. The American rendition of the game, “Beano,” was standardized by Hugh J. Ward. His efforts played a significant role in standardizing the game in the US, making it a staple at carnivals in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. Players used a cardboard sheet, dried beans, and a rubber stamp to participate in the fun.
In 1929, toymaker Edwin Lowe discovered the game at a traveling carnival near Atlanta, Georgia in 1929. Impressed with the game, he decided to take the game nationwide. Legend has it that the name “Bingo” emerged from a winner’s excited slip of the tongue, replacing “Beano.” After that — as they say — the rest is history.
By the 1930s and ’40s, Bingo had become a popular amusement found at county fairs and churches, later finding its way into retirement homes and fundraising events. Of course, it can be played online today, thanks to many apps.
How to Celebrate National Bingo Day
Whether casually playing at a local bingo hall or enjoying an online version of the game, it’s important to always approach bingo with a sense of responsibility. Here are some ideas for how to celebrate National Bingo Day:
Host a Bingo marathon – start in the morning and play endless rounds that last all day long. Challenge friends and family with every variation of Bingo known. From the traditional straight line game to creating more complex (and challenging!) patterns like the ‘X’ or the ‘Z’, the variety is fun. It often leads to hilarity. Remember, the more enthusiastic someone shouts out “Bingo!,” the better!
Digital Bingo Bash
Have a smartphone or tablet? Why not challenge friends to a round or two of Bingo online? Organize a virtual Bingo tournament with friends and family. Use any of the many Bingo apps and websites available. Make it extra fun by setting a theme for the night. For instance, perhaps everyone wears hats or chooses a virtual background related to Bingo.
Bingo Scavenger Hunt
Combine a game of Bingo with a scavenger hunt. Make Bingo cards with items or tasks that participants need to find or complete instead of calling out numbers. For instance, by including things someone might commonly find around the house. Or assign small tasks like ‘help a neighbor’ or ‘find a pink flower.’ It’s Bingo with a twist of adventure and kindness.
Bingo Costume Party
Host a costume party. Ask everyone invited to dress as a number or a famous Bingo call. Invite every attendee to get as creative as they want. Imagine the fun when ‘B-2’ strikes up a conversation with ‘N-35’ at the snack table!
Charity Bingo for a Worthy Cause
Organize a Bingo event where proceeds raised from participants go to a favorite cause or charity. It’s a great way to have fun and give back to the less fortunate. There could even be funny or themed prizes that align with the charity’s mission.
Bingo Recipe Challenge
Create a Bingo recipe challenge. Each number could correspond with an ingredient. Draw numbers ahead of time to decide what ingredients friends or family will need to use to cook their dish. It’s a deliciously unpredictable way to dine!
Bingo Art Project
Get creative with a Bingo-themed art project. Whether trying a hand at crafting custom Bingo cards or painting a Bingo-inspired mural, let that artistic light shine.
Host a Bingo Storytelling Night
Each number on the Bingo card can match up with a word or a theme. When someone calls a number, tell a short story, or share a memory related to the night’s theme. This game is a fabulous opportunity to learn more about each other and share loads of laughs.
National Bingo Day isn’t just about playing the game; whether daubing away in a crowded hall, tapping on a phone, or shouting “Bingo!” in a public space, it’s about celebrating the joy, the community, and the quirky traditions that come with it.