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World Rock Paper Scissors Day

One of the world's simplest and most common hand signal games is celebrated today. Rock paper scissors is usually played by two people, often when something needs to be chosen, such as whose turn is next. Hands are made into the shape of a rock, piece of paper, or scissors. A rock is made with a fist, paper by holding the hand in a flat, outstretched position, and scissors by making a fist, with the middle and index finger pointing out like a V at a slight angle. Rock breaks scissors, paper covers rock, and scissors cuts paper.

A similar game was first mentioned in Wuzazu, a book by Xie Zhaozhi, a Chinese writer of the Ming dynasty. Known as shousiling, the game was said to date back to the Han dynasty which ranged from 206 BCE to 220 CE. Hand signal games traveled from China to Japan in the seventeenth century, where they became known as sansukumi-ken, and rose in popularity. "Ken" meant fist games, "san" meant three-way, and "sukami" meant deadlock. There were variations of the games, the earliest being mushi-ken. The first form of the game to use symbols for rock, paper, and scissors was jan-ken. Created in the late nineteenth century, the modern version of the game is derived from it.

By the early twentieth century, rock paper scissors spread beyond Japan to the West. It was described in a children's magazine in France in 1927, and its rules were delineated in a New York Times article in 1932. The following year, Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia described it as being a game to help children settle disputes. In the twenty-first century, the game is ubiquitous, and we celebrate it today with Rock Paper Scissors Day.

How to Observe World Rock Paper Scissors Day

Take part in the day by playing rock paper scissors. Brush up on the official rules if needed, look over some strategies or pick up a copy of The Official Rock Paper Scissors Handbook. You also could read some articles about rock paper scissors or join the World Rock Paper Scissors Association.

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