I’m from a family of gamers. Monopoly, Scrabble, Yahtzee. We recently added Settlers of Catan to our repertoire.
One of our favorite games to play together (the women, I mean. The men would rather watch March Madness!) is one we picked up years ago when my sister was living in Hong Kong. You could walk through the streets in some of the fishing villages and hear the click-clack of tiles as people played lightning-fast games of mahjong. The game has been played in China for centuries, and was first introduced to America in the 1920s when it was sold by Abercrombie & Fitch. (Who knew!? I bet they didn’t have half-naked models standing at the door dousing people with cologne back then.)
Mahjong is a game of skill, strategy, and luck. Some say Confucius invented the game around 500 BC. Other sources say it is based on a card game played during the Ming Dynasty. In any event, it has been around for ages, was banned by the Communist Party during the 1940s, and is now back again (if it ever really went away).
If you like the card game rummy, you might enjoy mahjong. It is similar in that you are trying to develop certain sets of tiles to make a pattern. The suits include Bamboo, Dots, Characters (known as “cracks”). There are also Dragons, Winds, and Flowers. The person to complete their selected pattern first wins.
I like mahjong for a lot of reasons, but especially because it’s pretty. I love the Chinese symbols and characters. I love the feel of the tiles. I love to chatter with my mom, sisters, and cousins around the table as we drink and laugh and play.
Does your family like to play games when they get together? What are your favorites?