My informant, JA, is a undergraduate student at the University of Southern California. He moved from his family home in Arizona to attend college in Los Angeles. His family is of German ancestry.
I (AT) am a close friend of JA, and he comes over to hang out at my apartment often. I asked him if he had any folklore he could share and telling me about this game that I had never heard of was his response.
JA: “So anyways Euchre is a card game that I think is relatively popular throughout the Midwest, but it’s a card game that is typically is played with four players, but it can be scaled up and down, where players take tricks based on suits and everyone is divided into two teams and every hand in the basic four-player variant you play with your partner across from you, and a trump suit is decided by dealing out 5 cards to each player. It’s only the cards nine, ten, jack, queen, king, and ace are the only cards in each suit in the game, uh, five cards are dealt to each player and four are set aside, and the top is turned over which determines the trump suit. Then its played like a typical trick taking game where high cards take tricks, unless the trump suit is played in which case those cards take the trick, but in Euchre, uhm, the highest card of the trump suits are the jacks instead of the aces, so if heart is trump then jack of hearts is the highest, while the other colors spade and clubs in that hand would have the normal order. And you play enough rounds until one team gets ten points. I dunno, it’s just a very easy game to teach people, you can get into it very quickly, and I play it a lot with my parents and my grandparents, especially when they’re around, because it’s just… the primary activity that we do together, it’s kind of a tradition we do it a lot after meals, family meals, with big gatherings like that. It’s… I dunno I guess the primary tradition we have on that side of the family – it’s very casual, it’s a good time.”
AT: “Who taught you the game?”
JA: “I think my mom had to have taught me the game first, uhm, but she might have taught it in conjunction with my grandparents, I’m not sure.”
AT: “But they all already knew it? Do you know where they learned it from?”
JA: “I mean my mom learned it from my grandparents, beyond that, I don’t know.”
I don’t have much to add to this one, other than that I think it’s interesting that a specific card game can become such a tradition in someone’s family, with the rules being passed on through generations. I had also never heard of the game itself, so I thought it was worth documenting here.