Gambling and moon cake go great together in Fujian

By Sava Hassan Source:Global Times Published: 2015-9-20 17:33:01

Several people join a gamble game (bobing) to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in 2011 in Fujian Province. Photo: IC

Two women try their hand at bobing in Xiamen, Fujian Province in 2007. Photo: IC

For the last twelve years, I have been very fortunate to live and work in China. Consequently, I thought that I knew everything about my second home.

However, upon visiting Xiamen, a beautiful city in Fujian Province, a couple of years ago I discovered that I still have plenty to learn.

For a writer, I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge about my beloved China. Therefore, I didn't hesitate to accept an invitation from friends to a dinner followed by a gambling game known as bobing.

I'd like to point out the fact that I've never been much of a gambler due to a lack of time, energy and the funds needed to pursue such a hobby. Nevertheless, my inquisitive nature took hold of my mind and got me raring to participate in the game.

I was told by my Chinese friends that people from Xiamen tend to play this game with family members and friends during the Mid-Autumn Festival. I was also informed that the game originated in Xiamen. 

My friends stressed that they never play with money. Instead, winners get gift certificates from a department store in Xiamen. The game is played using six six-sided dice; three with the dots representing the numbers colored in red and the other three in black.

Each player will throw the dice in a big bowl. If all six dice of the dice have the same number, they get to take one of the most expensive gift certificates. Four red fours gets you the next most expensive gift certificate, while three red fours nets you a less expensive certificate. If a player doesn't manage to roll any red fours, then they lose their turn.

On our way to the restaurant on Xiamen Island, I was worried about my lack of knowledge about the game.  When we arrived, we were led to a nicely decorated booth with a circular rotating tray for eight individuals. We were served delicious seafood dishes that had been fried, boiled and cooked in a hot tomato sauce.

As soon as we started playing the game, I became as excited as everyone else in the group. I tried to win the most expensive gift certificate by using the magic word "abracadabra" before I threw the dice which created laughter among my companions. Unfortunately, it didn't work. I guess it's not that magic a word after all.   

A young lady ended up winning the most expensive gift certificate, while I ended up with a couple of mediocre ones. Nevertheless, I had a great time laughing and bonding with my new friends. After we finished gambling, we played a couple of other party games in order to keep the fun going.

Of course, we were eager to get a taste of the various moon cakes on offer at the party. At the end of the evening, we wished each other a happy Mid-Autumn Festival.

I thanked my hosts for making me feel so well at home in Xiamen. They reciprocated by thanking me for accepting their invitation, adding that they hoped we could be friends for a long time to come.

Newspaper headline: ‘Bobing’ culture

Posted in: Culture & Leisure

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