Card Playing Day

Card Playing Day is celebrated on December 28th of each year.  The staff at National Whatever Day were unable to discover the origin of Card Playing Day.

Playing cards were invented in ancient China. They were found in China as early as the 9th century during the Tang Dynasty (618–907). The first reference to card games in world history dates from the 9th century, when the Collection of Miscellanea at Duyang, written by Tang Dynasty writer Su E, described Princess Tongchang, daughter of Emperor Yizong of Tang, playing the “leaf game” in 868 with members of the Wei clan, the family of the princess’ husband. The Song Dynasty (960–1279) scholar Ouyang Xiu (1007–1072) asserted that playing cards and card games existed at least since the mid-Tang Dynasty and associated their invention with the simultaneous development of using sheets or pages instead of paper rolls as a writing medium. The first known book on cards called Yezi Gexi was allegedly written by a Tang era woman, and was commented on by Chinese writers of subsequent dynasties.

By the 11th century, playing cards could be found throughout the Asian continent. During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), characters from popular novels such as the Water Margin were widely featured on the faces of playing cards.

Ancient Chinese “money cards” have four suits: coins (or cash), strings of coins (which may have been misinterpreted as sticks from crude drawings), myriads (of coins or of strings), and tens of myriads (a myriad is 10,000). These were represented by ideograms, with numerals of 2–9 in the first three suits and numerals 1–9 in the “tens of myriads”. Wilkinson suggests that the first cards may have been actual paper currency which were both the tools of gaming and the stakes being played for, as in trading card games. The designs on modern Mahjong tiles likely evolved from those earliest playing cards. However, it may be that the first deck of cards ever printed was a Chinese domino deck, in whose cards all 21 combinations of a pair of dice are depicted. In Kuei-t’ien-lu, a Chinese text redacted in the 11th century, domino cards were printed during the Tang Dynasty, contemporary to the first printed books. The Chinese word pái (牌) is used to describe both paper cards and gaming tiles.