Dänemark Mah-Jongg

båltalen – bonfire speech 2007

es war schon etwas besonderes, am St.Hans Aften in Kopenhagen die feuerrede halten zu dürfen – einer der höhepunkte des rahmenprogramms der Open European Mahjong Championship 2007. auf wunsch einiger teilnehmer veröffentliche ich hier das rede-manuskript:

Bonfire Speech OEMC 2007

Først lad mig sige mange tak for invitationen til at holde båltalen her på St. Hans Aften. Det er ikke kun en tradition i Danmark at … Men jeg tror det er ikke så mange de snakker dansk – så måske jeg skal gentage på engelsk.

Dear friends, I just realized that not all people at this place seem to be familiar with the Danish language – so I should repeat and continue in English. I just started: Thank you for the invitation to hold the bonfire speech this evening. Lighting a fire on Midsummer is not only a tradition in Denmark, but also in other countries like e.g. Germany where I come from. The roots of bonfires at Midsummer are not Mahjong, of course. Burning down the fire should help to chase away the trolls and witches. (I think we might sing the Midsummersong of Holger Drachmann later – the song also tells about it).

st. hans aften

With the fire the witches should take off and go to the ”Blocksberg“ in Germany, where they meet other witches. But this evening I won’t talk about burning witches – I don’t think they were playing Mahjong at the Blocksberg either. But perhaps there is still a bit Mahjong in the story about St. Hansaften! E.g. there is something similar in the pronunciation of the names: St. John – Mahjong – so let us think about the connection between Mahjong and Midsummer.

Normally in Denmark and perhaps also in other European countries people are used to play Mahjong in the evening, not during the day. When all work is done, people sit down, relax and play, in the dark evenings of Northern Europe. But when the nights getting shorter and shorter, the days growing longer and longer, you can’t play Mahjong any more! Oh, what terrible feeling! You have to go out in the garden and cut the gras with the lawn mower, paint the house, etc – no time for Mahjong!

But at St-John’s, people know: The nightmare is over! The nights will be longer and longer again, the weather will be awful and wet and cold and dirty the next months – nothing to do outside! So what a happy feeling: playing Mahjong again! Perhaps this is the reason why Mahjong players in Denmark organized the Championship at the end of June – to have a Mahjong bonfire with all those Mahjong enthusiastics from all over the world and to celebrate the return of Mahjong in everyday life!

And indeed: Mahjong is back! After the first rush in the 1920s a new Mahjong euphoria came up some years ago. This time we have the chance to make it permanent and everlasting! The World Wide Web and emails help us to organize the network of players and enthusiasts. With the Mahjong Competition Rules we have one common standard for competitions. And we started to create worldwide structures of Mahjong organizations, not competing but in cooperation.

No doubt about it: playing is the first priority. But if we don’t want to leave the future of Mahjong to chance then we have to organize that players from everywhere meet each other at the Mahjong tables. That is the real objective of associations like the European Mahjong Association and a World Mahjong Association: Connecting players and improving the Mahjong rules. It is a vision – a vision of friendship, peace and international understanding. The bonfire this evening in Copenhagen is a bonfire of the future development of Mahjong in the world. Mahjong will succeed!

Uwe Martens, June 23, 2007, Trekroner/Copenhagen (Denmark)

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