Every year on 1 August, International Mahjong Day is celebrated to honour one of the most popular games that travelled from China to different parts of the world.
What is Mahjong
It is a rummy-style game played by three or four members with domino-like tiles. In the game, the players attempt to form sets of three or four matching or sequenced tiles. The four players - who sit in the cardinal directions of East, West, North, and South focus on winning the game by creating four sets and one pair.
Those who play Mahjong can sharpen skills such as good communication, negotiation, cooperation and even strategy-making. With time, the game added recognition via Hollywood movies, who popularised it in films/series including The Joy Luck Club (1993), Fresh Off the Boat (2015) and Crazy Rich Asians (2018).
How is the day celebrated
Mahjong admirers and experts come together on this day to participate in their favourite versions of the game.
History and significance
The National Mahjong Day was founded by a community — Riichi Mahjong Central — to raise awareness about the game and how to play it. In 2020, the community rebranded the National Mahjong Day to International Mahjong Day as the classic game represents an amalgamation of different cultures.
As per Annelise Heinz, a doctoral candidate in Stanford’s department of history, the game actually originated in China. It was the Chinese immigrant community in the United States that popularised the game in the West. With time, the game evolved into several versions as it travelled across the world.
Mental health benefits of playing Mahjong
The game does not just entertain the players but improves the overall mental health of a person as well. Here are a few advantages of playing Mahjong:
-Helps to slow down the effects of dementia: Mahjong helps keep the mind sharp. This game improves both memory and concentration.
-Reduces depression: The game boosts mental health and reduces depression among all age groups.
-Helps kids develop cognitive qualities: Mahjong is beneficial for young children as it requires planning, intelligence, concentration and strategising.