International Mahjong Day Date in the current year: August 1, 2024

International Mahjong Day International Mahjong Day is celebrated each August 1 in honor of a board game that originated in 19th-century China and has spread across the world since then. It should not be confused with the solitaire game of the same name.

Mahjong is a tile-based game that combines strategy, skill, and luck. It typically requires four players, although there are variations of the game played by three players. The game of mahjong is played with a set of 144 tiles that can be organized into several categories:

  • Suited tiles: there are three suits (dots/circles, bamboo, characters), each consisting of 36 tiles. Tiles in a suit are ranked from 1 to 9, each suit has four identical copies of each tile.
  • Honors tiles: four winds (east, west, north, south) and three dragons (red, green, white). Again, there are four identical copies of each tile, thus, there are 28 honor tiles in total.
  • Bonus tiles: flowers (plum, orchid, chrysanthemum, bamboo) and seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter). There is only one copy of each bonus tile.

In addition to tiles, a mahjong set usually includes dice, counters for keeping score, and a marker indicating the dealer and the round of a match.

At the beginning of the game, each player receives 13 tiles. They take turns drawing and discarding tiles, aiming to form four melds (groups of four tiles defined by the rules) and two eyes (pairs of identical tiles) using the 14th drawn tile.

The most popular version of mahjong is Old Hong Kong mahjong, also referred to as Hong Kong mahjong or Cantonese mahjong. Other variations include Chinese classical mahjong, local Chinese variations, competition mahjong, American mahjong, Japanese mahjong (riichi), Korean mahjong, Singaporean mahjong, Western classical mahjong, and many more. They may use more or less tiles, have different scoring systems or criteria for melds and winning hands, etc. Sometimes groups of mahjong players even introduce their own house rules.

The board game of mahjong should not be confused with the solitaire game of the same name. Mahjong solitaire borrowed its name from traditional mahjong, but the only thing the two games have in common is that they both use mahjong tiles. Mahjong solitaire is a matching game that is usually played on a computer rather than with a physical set of mahjong tiles.

International Mahjong Day has been celebrated each August 1 since 2018. The holiday was initiated by Riichi Mahjong Central, a group that focuses on creating content about Japanese mahjong, also known as riichi mahjong, for English-speaking audiences. It aims to raise awareness of mahjong and its many variations.

How to observe International Mahjong Day? Of course, by playing a game or two of mahjong. You can try to find a mahjong group near you or simply invite some friends over and learn to play together. If you already know how to play mahjong, take time to teach someone or learn a new variation of the game that you’ve never played before. And don’t forget to spread the word about the holiday on social media with the hashtag #InternationalMahjongDay.

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International Mahjong Day, internalization observances, board games, tile-based board game, mahjong