Pick a card — any card

Did you know that the Chinese not only invented gunpowder, but also introduced the rest of the world to playing cards? They, meaning archaeologists, currently think playing cards came into play in the sixth century.
Before that were dominoes, and before that, people played with knuckle bones.
olivia6-25 Page 4A.inddNot only are the Chinese currently credited with inventing playing cards, ice cream and gunpowder, they were also the first to have uniform minted coins to be used as currency.
Money apparently came before playing cards and was introduced, or made law, by Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, who came onto the world stage in 260 BC.
He abolished all other forms of currency and produced uniform copper coins. This was news to me, as I don’t recall covering this in world history.
I do remember the opium wars, but that was much later.
It may be that Marco Polo brought playing cards with him back to Italy. That’s one theory. Makes sense to me. I wish he settled for playing cards and ice cream and left gunpowder out, but that’s not what happened.
The deck of cards most of us play with today is full of history that I for one was totally ignorant of. You could say the history of the world is recorded in a deck of cards if we learn to read the symbols.
There are 52 cards in a deck and 52 weeks in a year. The 13 cards in each suit represent the lunar moons.
Some people call the ace of spades the death card, and it trumps other playing cards in some games.
Did you know that the four suits represent the four seasons? Hearts represent spring, diamonds represent summer, clubs represent fall and spades symbolize winter.
And that’s not all they represent. During the middle ages, the four suits symbolized the major economic bases of society.
Hearts stood for the church. Spades meant the military, diamonds stood for merchants and commerce and clubs represented agriculture.
And as far as face cards go, there’s an entirely separate story.
The king of hearts is the only king without a mustache. And that’s because a sloppy printer left the mustache off the wood block he was printed from. He is said to represent Charlemagne. The king of clubs is Alexander the Great, while the king of spades is King David and the king of diamonds is Julius Caesar. The kings were historical rulers. Alexander the Great was the Macedonian general who triumphed from Greece to India. David was the second king of Israel. Julius Caesar was the famous dictator of Rome. Charles the Great, i.e. Charlemagne, was the founder of the Holy Roman Empire.
Because of changes in design for convenience, Charlemagne is the only king left in the deck who still has the symbol which identifies him, the globe that represents the world.
The following theory of the royals’ identities makes a lot of sense to me:
In the suit of spades, the king represents the Jewish King David, with the queen representing Judith (from Genesis) and jack representing Judah Maccabee.
The club royalty represents Greek King Alexander, queen Argeia and jack Hector.
In the diamonds, the king is Caesar, the queen is Palas and the jack is Aulus Hirtius.
For hearts, the king is the Christian king Charlemagne, with the queen being Ragnel, wife of Sir Gawain, a knight of the Round Table, and the jack as Ogier, Charlemagne’s loyal knight.
So next time somebody asks you to pick a card, take a good look at it and think about the story it has to tell.