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Why does Michigan love playing Euchre?

A perfect lone hand for spades trump. (WDIV/Wikipedia Commons)

Euchre is a staple of Michigan card tables and family events. Why?

So, I’m not going to break down the rules of Euchre, mostly because they change by location and household. But if you’re up for a refresher, here’s a good breakdown of basic rules that are pretty baseline in any scenario.

Instead, we’re going to look at the history of the card game -- and how it became so popular here in Michigan.

Origins of Euchre

Euchre was played in North America starting in the early 19th century, but originated in Alsace, under the name “Juckerspiel.” The game was carried to the New World by German-speaking immigrants. Some of the game’s other terms also come from German. In euchre, the jacks are called “bowers” which is derived from “bauer”, meaning farmers in German.

That’s the most popular theory, of course. There are others. One suggests a “Rich German farmer’s daughter” visited Philadelphia and brought home a confused version of the French game Écarté, which later developed into Euchre. It’s all a blur. Either way, Euchre’s popularity skyrocketed in the mid-1800s.

Euchre was widely regarded as the national card game in the United States in the 19th century, as described in an 1877 book: “No sedentary game is more popular, or so generally played for amusement in domestic circles, throughout the widespread ‘eminent domain’ of the United States.”

Like all popular things, Euchre’s glow eventually dimmed, but it remains a popular game in the Midwest, Ontario and in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.

Why is it popular here?

The quick answer to this is: nobody really knows. It’s not like there was a huge Euchre tournament that happened here and shaped the Euchre culture for generations.

It’s probably because of Midwestern family values. Think about it -- who taught you how to play Euchre? Probably a parent, aunt/uncle, cousin or sibling, right? The game brings families together for a game, keeping those connections alive.

Through the years, we keep teaching each other to play the game and it stays alive through our family framework. Isn’t that a beautiful reason?

Don’t worry, you can still “go alone” if you think it’s the right move.


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