Morra – Italian Trowing Fingers Game – Oldest Game in the World
Italian Throwing Fingers Game
Oldest game in the world
Morra is a hand game that dates back thousands of years to ancient Roman and Greek times. Each player simultaneously reveals their hand, extending any number of fingers, and calls out a number. Any player who successfully guesses the total number of fingers revealed by all players combined scores a point.
Morra was known to the ancient Romans and is popular around the world, especially in Italy. In the Bible, it may have been referred to as “casting lots“. In ancient Rome, it was called micatio, and playing it was referred to as micare digitis; literally, “to flash with the fingers”.
As time passed, the name became morra, a corruption of the verb micare. The game was so common in ancient Rome that there was a proverb used to denote an honest person which made reference to it: dignus est quicum in tenebris mices, literally, “he is a worthy man with whom you could play micatio in the dark”.
Micatio became so common that it came to be used to settle disputes over the sale of merchandise in the Roman forum. This practice was eventually banned by Apronius, prefect of the city. The game followed Roman colonists as they spread through Europe, the Near East and North Africa.
Today, morra can be found throughout Italy (notably in Sardinia, where it is called sa murra), Greece, the Teruel Province of Spain, Corsica, France, Portugal, Cyprus, Istria (Croatian, Italian and Slovenian parts), Dalmatia in Croatia and Malta. There is also a variant in Spain called “Chinos” where coins are used instead of fingers.
Morra played in Arab lands is called mukharaja. In southern France it is called la mourre, while in China and Mongolia it is hua quan, which translates as “fist quarrel”, and is played as a drinking game. It is also popular in South and North American communities with large Italian populations, sometimes known as “Little Italy” in their area.
In the city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, an annual tournament is held in February. Money raised during the tournament is given to a local charity associated with Helping Hands.
In 2005, the Italian Fingers Championship, short for IFC, became an official tournament for a modified version of Morra that is played in teams.
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