History of Cigars at Celebrations

Red Auerbach smoking a cigar

Historically, the cigar represents a time of celebration or victory. From the birth of a new child, weddings, business mergers and what I feel is the most common, a victory cigar for a sporting event. Cigars and winning seem to go hand in hand for as long as anyone can remember. I thought I would do some research and see why that is the case. So in order to answer this question, we need to examine the history of cigars at celebrations.

The truth is that nobody is 100 percent certain where or when cigar smoking originated. Ceramic pots with depictions of Mayans puffing on tobacco leaves are estimated to date back to the 10th century. When Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, he also discovered the tobacco plant. The tradition is often linked to the potlatches of the Native Americans because they have a long tradition of smoking tobacco wrapped in husks of corn or palm (which eventually turned into the peace pipe); this was a common part of many religious ceremonies, to celebrate the joyous occasion of a birth or marriage, or was smoked after a win on the battle field. The host would then give the guests gifts; food was the most common type of gift. This form of sharing in order to celebrate is seen by many as the root of the modern tradition of passing out cigars in order to celebrate.

Tobacco subsequently became popular in Europe and the United States, where people started rolling it into cigars. The term cigar originated from the Mayan term for smoking, sikar, which led to the Spanish term cigarro that eventually was shortened to just cigar. Cigars exploded with popularity and quickly changed from being affordable to a must-have luxury item. The cigar has become a symbol of patriotism for Americans. Politicians, celebrities, military members and athletes have smoked a cigar to celebrate a special occasion.

Red Auerbach comes to mind as he smoked a victory cigar when the Boston Celtics won. I think he had reason to celebrate as he coached 11 Hall of Famers and led Boston to 10 Eastern Division titles in 16 years. I guess a cigar can taste that much better after a hard-fought victory. In films like Independence Day, Will Smith carried cigars as his good luck charm and when he walked away as a hero, he had a stogie in his mouth as a mark of victory.

Independence Day Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum smoking a stogie!

The most common types of celebrations in which cigars are passed out is the birth of a child, marriage, victory, job promotion or business deal, and during the holidays. There are blue and pink cigar bands to represent a baby boy or girl. Tons of awesome wedding gifts for the cigar smoking groom and groomsman. Businessmen who smoke cigars to celebrate the closing of a business deal. And the servicemen and women overseas that smoke a cigar just to take a break and relax for a moment.

In some traditions, a cigar is purchased for luck and only smoked when the goal is achieved in order to celebrate the success. In this tradition, the cigar not only serves as a means of celebration but also a reward that may encourage someone to work towards a goal.

While cigars are still smoked to mark a celebration, I think Americans smoke them just as often to unwind and relax. There’s nothing more satisfying than an evening post-work cigar or a smoke while you’re kayaking outside in the great outdoors. Sometimes the simple everyday moments can feel just as important as a special occasion. Let’s be honest – if you love cigars, you can smoke because you want to and that’s as good of a reason as any (no occasion needed)!

Photos via espn.go.com & hodderscape.co.uk

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