The name “mahjong” likely hails from the sound that the little tiles of this game make when they touch together, in sort of a clacking sound reminiscent of a bird. The word means “sparrow” in southern Chinese, and in some traditional sets, the first tile may have a picture of a sparrow on it.
Get to know more about this game by celebrating National Mahjong Day!
History of National Mahjong Day
A tile-based game that dates back to mind-1800s China, mahjong was one of many gambling games, dominated by males, toward the end of the Qing Dynasty. Since its inception, the game has grown and spread throughout the world, finding its way through Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia and eventually to the rest of the world.
Mahjong (sometimes spelled Mah Jongg) is a game that is often made up of 144 tiles, needing to have at least 136 tiles. Tiles have different pictures on them, often including sets of circles, bamboo, characters, dragons, “word” or honor tiles, and various other pictures such as flowers.
The tiles are laid out in different shapes and stacked on top of each other and matches are made so that tiles can be removed. While mahjong started out as a four player game, it may also be played with three people in certain variations.
National Mahjong Day was started with the purpose of showing appreciation for and encouraging the celebration of this fascinating game that made a comeback in the late 20th century and has continued to captivate people all over the world.
How to Celebrate National Mahjong Day
National Mahjong Day is all about having fun by playing this traditional game with Chinese tiles. Check out some of these ideas for getting involved with the day:
Clearly the best thing to do on National Mahjong Day would be to show some appreciation by playing a game of Mahjong. Those who have a set can grab a couple of friends and get to playing. Those who don’t have a set of their own might be interested in finding a friend who has one or checking to see if they can borrow one from the local library.
Join a Mahjong Tournament
People who are avid players of the game may be interested in celebrating National Mahjong Day by joining up with a local tournament and playing against others who love it too. There are even cruises that are organized specifically around the game, encouraging novices to learn how to play mahjong or providing a floating tournament space right on the water for those who are super dedicated and feeling competitive!
Try a Mahjong Video Game
One of the ways that mahjong actually started to become popular in the West was through the video game version. This can often be played as a solitaire, timed game or it might be a two player game that can be enjoyed with another person. In celebration of National Mahjong Day, be sure to download one of the many game apps onto a smartphone or tablet, or look up a laptop or desktop version of mahjong just for fun.