About National Card Playing Day
National Card Playing Day is observed in the United States on December 28th.
Taking place after Christmas when many families are still gathered together, it's a day to promote playing any sort of card game as a fun and entertaining pastime that can involve family members of all ages.
A Comprehensive History of Solitaire
One-player card games are commonly called 'solitaire' in some countries (US, Spain, Italy, etc.), 'patience' or 'Kabale in others (UK, France, etc.), but both of these terms are spreading worldwide.
'Kabale,' which suggests something mysterious or occult, may have originated with fortune-telling (cartomancy), which has become famous throughout Europe since the mid-1700s. Its original purpose might have been to predict success in a lighthearted way. A successful or released game is a positive outcome, but it is a negative outcome if it is not. Card solitaire is still called 'réussite' in France, which means success.
Solitaire games first appeared in Russian and Swedish books in the early 1800s and then in France and the United Kingdom shortly after. Female authors wrote most. Some of the games in the description bear titles commemorating Emperor Napoleon, such as Napoleon at St Helena, Napoleon's Square, etc., probably based on the entirely mistaken assumption that Napoleon enjoyed playing solitaire in exile, which cannot be verified.
In Great Expectations, Dickens portrayed a character playing Patience. It was published in 1861, the same year Queen Victoria's husband Albert passed away. Patience: A series of thirty card games by Ednah Cheney (1870) was the first American collection. Around the same time, a British noblewoman named Lady Adelaide Cadogan published Illustrated Games of Patience. Mary Whitmore Jones, a prolific collector of patience games, compiled one of the largest collections during the last decades of that century.
Since then, solitaire games have settled into a reasonably unremarkable existence. There is no question that most people interested in card games are aware of only two or three of the most popular types, such as Klondike and Spider, and whichever game they play, they call solitaire without knowing that there are others. The following printed collections mainly were rehashes of classics, with little or no acknowledgment of previous authors or inventors.
It wasn't until 1950, when Albert Morehead and Geoffrey Mott-Smith published their Complete Book of Patience, that anything of value appeared. The authors read the literature, sorted out conflicting rules, and decided to classify games and order them logically for the first time.
In 1990, all that began to change with Microsoft's first digital solitaire collection, designed to teach people how to use a computer mouse. In later versions of Windows, both FreeCell and Spider became free games, which caused them to be very popular with the general public. A news item released in May 2020 stated that more than half a billion people played the game in the last decade alone. The game is now a global phenomenon.
Now that you know the history of solitaire. Try playing it online!