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Cigar Culture

History of Why We Smoke Cigars to Celebrate

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Cigars have long accompanied celebration. We mark all kinds of the biggest moments in life with a cigar in our hand. Getting married, having a baby, receiving a promotion, and winning a championship represent epic occasions to break out fine cigars. Why do such monumental events prompt us to pull out our favorite cigars?

Native Americans and the Potlach

The exact origins of the cigar are tough to pin down outside of archeological artifacts from the Mayans that depict them smoking tobacco back in the 10th century. By the time Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1492, tobacco had spread to the Taino people, natives of Hispaniola. When Columbus returned to Spain, tobacco came with him. In the coming centuries, Europeans embraced cigars. 

In the Americas, smoking to celebrate was customary in native ceremonies called potlaches. A potlach was hosted for a variety of reasons, including to honor marriages, births, deaths, an elevation in social rank, and to quell embarrassment. For American Indians in the Pacific Northwest, the potlach was established as an institutional event. The ritual consisted of feasting, giving speeches, distributing gifts, hospitality, and smoking.

The First Cigars to Reach Europe Were Rare

It appears the notion of celebration caught on with the first Europeans to smoke cigars. However, it may have been out of necessity. The first cigars to reach Europe came through Spain and were incredibly rare and a conspicuous sign of wealth. Saving them to savor over a special occasion made sense. They were coveted and used as currency by some.

Celebrating with Cigars Today

While today’s premium cigars may be more readily available than they were in Spain in the 1500s and 1600s, they are equally special. Cigars still symbolize many important special occasions. Here are the top reasons why we celebrate with cigars.  

#1 - A New Baby Is Born

Smoking cigars to herald the arrival of a newborn represents an important tradition carried out by America’s indigenous population generations ago. Long before gender-specific ‘It’s a Boy’ and ‘It’s a Girl’ bands were introduced, Indians threw potlaches and smoked cigars to welcome a new baby into their tribe.

The ritual spread to Europeans and North American settlers. Back in the day, expectant fathers did a lot of pacing and waiting in their homes while a doctor or midwife tended to the soon-to-be mother in the bedroom. Cigars (and alcohol) were critical comforts for easing nerves in the midst of much anticipation and worry. Although you’ll be hard-pressed to find a hospital with a smoking room today, enjoying a cigar with close friends and relatives remains a thriving tradition after you bring a new baby home. Today, we usually smoke in the back yard or down in the man cave.

#2 - Getting Married

There’s no shortage of reveling groomsmen (and bridesmaids) lined up to raise a toast with cigars in hand to celebrate the nuptials of a best friend or relative. Weddings are one of the best occasions to smoke cigars. Everyone is dressed up, enjoying cocktails, and ready to cut loose when the DJ cues up the next tune. Because smoking cigars at a wedding is a communal event, you never have to light up alone. Arturo Fuente Chateau Fuente and Ashton Classic are perfect blends to select for your guests thanks to the mild but rich taste they offer.

#3 - Winning

Coming out of a tough competition victorious is an easy reason to smoke a cigar. Professional athletes and coaches who remind us this tradition is alive and well include Michael Jordan, Alex Rodriguez, Wayne Gretzky, Mike Ditka, Joe Torre, Ray Lewis, Michael Strahan, and Dick Butkus to name a few. Bask in the glory of a big win with a Fuente Fuente Opus X or a Padron Family Reserve.

#4 - Graduation

Receiving your diploma is a big deal. Years of discipline and dedication are prerequisites to tossing your cap in the air whether it’s your four-year undergrad degree, or a master’s, PhD, law school, or medical school graduation. Firing up a premium cigar is the perfect way to reflect on all the knowledge and experience you’ve gained, especially before your student loans kick in. Ashton ESG and Padron 1926 Series are well-suited for celebrating your graduation.

#5 - Getting a Promotion

Hard work pays off. Getting a promotion feels great. Your boss and your superiors are reinforcing that you’re doing an excellent job. Whether it’s a new title, more authority, a sweet bonus, or all of the above, the folks you work for are impressed. Earning a new notch on your belt in the workplace is another reason why you deserve a cigar. Honor the occasion with a rare cigar like La Aroma de Cuba Noblesse or Oliva Monticello.  

#6 - Birthdays

Smoking a cigar on your birthday only makes it more special. Head out to dinner with friends and family, get them to pick up the tab, and spoil yourself a little with a fine cigar before the night is done. A premium cigar is a total bonus after you’ve put away some birthday cake. Get your buddies to join you and savor a celebration of your first day on planet earth.

#7 - Anniversaries

An anniversary is an excellent opportunity to share a cigar with your significant other. Whether one or both of you love cigars, indulging in a mouthwatering recipe like Ashton VSG or My Father La Opulencia, only adds to a romantic evening or weekend away.

#8 - Retirement

After decades of dedication to your career, retirement is a major milestone. Kick back and breathe the ultimate sigh of relief with your family and favorite coworkers as everyone raises a toast to all the sacrifices and hard work you’ve delivered over the years. Succulent cigars like Arturo Fuente Anejo and San Cristobal Ovation make reflection a pleasure while you dream about all the other cigars you can smoke with the indefinite free time you’ve got on the calendar.

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