Celebrate Black History Month with a Caribbean card game
For Black History Month, Scouts volunteer Lucinda Seber thinks about the cultural significance of card games for her family, and teaches us how to play one of her favourites
In Barbados, card games are an important part of the culture. If you ever find yourself on the sunny island, take an evening stroll along the palm trees and you can be certain to pass a family laughing, shouting, and slamming cards down on a white plastic table as the sun begins to set.
In particular, playing rummy is a Bajan tradition, one I came to know well during my trips back. Every evening, around 5pm, we’d head out to the veranda with a cold drink and prepare ourselves for an energetic game of rummy.
As we’re now in Black History Month, I wanted to share just a small snapshot of how we like to have fun, from my family to yours.
Set the scene
First, we need snacks. In my family, the only snack worthy of an evening game of rummy is plantain. Now, this’ll really separate the crowd in Barbados; how do you eat your plantain?
If you don’t know what plantain is, it’s a sweet banana that’s the perfect combination of savoury and sweet. Some people will chop theirs and bake them into thin crisps (https://downshiftology.com/recipes/baked-plantain-chips/), while others will keep it soft by lightly frying and sprinkling with salt (https://www.thespruceeats.com/fried-ripe-plantains-recipe-2138201). Personally, I prefer to fry mine, but I’ve been known to eat a crisp or two.
The only thing left is music. Some of my favourite black artists are Otis Redding and Ben E. King. I’d recommend putting on Sitting on the dock of the bay and Stand by me. Both will get you swaying but make sure you hold those cards close to your chest.
It’s time to play
Rummy is fairly easy. The best part of the game is putting down your mobile phones and spending time with family and friends. And a slightly unfair but traditional rule in my family: if you win but don’t stand up and yell rummy at the top of your voice, we simply keep playing.
Deal seven cards to each player. Place any remaining cards face down in a pile.
Look at your cards. You need to make two sets of the same number or the same suit.
One at a time, go around the table and pick up a card.
You can either keep your card – if it’s useful to you – or put it down. If you keep it, you must put one of your other cards down. You always have seven cards.
Remember, once your hand comes off that card, it’s gone.