With the Chinese New Year starting this weekend (it’s the Year of the Rabbit, by the way), we’re taking a look at Mahjong. It’s an ancient Chinese game that has become increasingly popular in the western world. Read on to find out everything you need to know about it.
What is Mahjong?
Mahjong is a symbols-based game played by four players with tiles. It’s easy to play at any age and from any culture because it’s so visual. Mahjong was developed in China in the 19th century, so the tiles naturally feature distinctive Chinese symbols and characters.
It’s similar to Western card games in many respects; the object of Mahjong is to collect the same tiles in much the same way as you would with cards in many card games.
To win a standard game of Mahjong, you must get four sets of three specifically patterned tiles and one pair (two of the same tile). Players draw and discard tiles in an attempt to get the ones they want, just like you do in many card games.
Can playing Mahjong stave off the ‘D’ word?
Besides being a fun pastime, playing Mahjong can have mental health benefits.
- The game helps you to exercise your grey matter. Keeping your brain active is important as you get older. As the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
- Mahjong is a social game because you usually play it with three other people. Socialising is another great way to maintain or boost your mental health. Many retirement villages have Mahjong groups
- Third, studies have shown that playing Mahjong can improve the mental functioning of elderly people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is a period of cognitive decline that can precede dementia. According to the latest statistics, nearly half a million Australians have dementia. It is the leading cause of death for women and the second leading cause of death overall. Any mental activity like Mahjong that may be able to help to reduce those numbers is worthwhile.
How much does a Mahjong set cost?
You can find high-quality Mahjong sets for less than $100.
Where can you get a Mahjong set?
You can find Mahjong sets at toy stores or you can buy them online from web portals like eBay and Amazon.
Can you play Mahjong online?
Yes, you can find free Mahjong games that you can play or join online via a simple Google search.
Do you need four players?
Not necessarily. You can play with two, three or four players, and you can even play Mahjong solitaire if you like.
What does the Chinese Year of the Rabbit mean?
The Chinese zodiac features 12 animals. The rabbit is the fourth in the twelve-year Chinese cycle, and 2023 is the fourth year of the Rabbit Year cycle of Metal, Fire, Earth and Water.
According to Chinese astrological beliefs associated with the Year of the Rabbit:
- 3, 4, 6 and 9 are lucky numbers.
- Black, red, pink, purple and blue are lucky colours.
- Brown, yellow and white are unlucky colours.
- Spring is the best season.
Rabbit years are linked with the Chinese philosophical concept of yin (darkness, femininity, passivity and the Earth) rather than yang (light, masculinity, activity, and the heavens).
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