Now a sophisticated way of celebrating a birth, a marriage, or a successful business deal, the smoking of a cigar has come a long way since cigars were first created, over a thousand years ago.
It is believed that the ancient Mayans invented the first incarnation of the cigar by wrapping tobacco in palm or plantain leaves. The Mayan people utilised tobacco in many different ways, from brewing it in drinks, to using it for medicinal purposes. Traces of tobacco and images of people smoking cigar-like items have been discovered inside archaic vessels and on ruins, reinforcing the belief that the Mayans were among the first civilisations to recognise the benefits of tobacco.
It is thought that when Christopher Columbus stumbled across America, believing it to be India, that the Native Americans would use tobacco to trade items with he and his men. After these encounters, it wasn’t long before the popularity of tobacco, and in particular, cigars, spread across Europe.
The Spanish embraced cigar manufacture and invented more sophisticated wrapping for the tobacco. Cigars became available commercially, with Spain being at the forefront for a long time. However, it soon became apparent that Cuba boasted the perfect climate for tobacco farming and the quality of the Cuban cigar remains renowned the world over. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, New York and Florida also became popular destinations for cigar manufacturers.
Cigars have long been used to celebrate accomplishments, or occasions, especially the birth of a new child, and weddings – but why? From the earliest times, smoking cigars was a social event, to be enjoyed with friends, family, and visitors. The celebratory aspect may stem from ancient Mayan rituals, and also the way in which tribes would signal acceptance of foreign explorers into their homes by inviting them to smoke cigars with the members of the tribe.
There is much more to cigar smoking than merely choosing the best brand, and cigar fans enjoy purchasing lighters, cutters, and other paraphernalia to accompany their cigars. It is now easier than ever to buy everything associated with cigars, and online retailer, The Cigar Cafe is known for providing a premium selection of cigars and anything else cigar-related you may wish to buy.
Even after all these years, cigars are still associated with a high status, which is why they are mostly brought out during times of celebrations. Think of the iconic images of Sir Winston Churchill, smoking a cigar – it would not have the same impact if he had been smoking on a mere cigarette!
Famous cigar smokers
Besides UK Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, there have been several other people of note known to enjoy smoking cigars, including Groucho Marx, John F. Kennedy, Orson Welles, Sigmund Freud, and Babe Ruth.
The history and culture surrounding cigars and cigar-production are extremely interesting, and it is fascinating how cigars have retained their status above other forms of tobacco smoking. Having been invented more than a thousand years ago, and still going strong, the cigar is one traditional item that is here to stay.