It's no surprise that we tend to give cigars as gift items at weddings, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, and new births, or that cigars remain popular gift item ideas for new dads, new moms, new brides and grooms, and newly engaged couples. After all, cigars have been associated with celebration and ceremony, with marking the moment, for as long as they've existed.
That claim may sound inflated, but, so far as we can tell, it's true. After all, Western Europeans picked up the whole idea of smoking rolled-up tobacco leaves from Native Americans - and according to the first New World visitors to report on the practice, it was part of a social ritual.
Rodrigo de Xerez and Luis de Torres, two sailors serving under Columbus, journeyed inland in October 1492 to the area that would eventually be known as Cuba. They watched native inhabitants of that region inhale smoke from burning leaves through a tube made of other leaves (such as palm and plantain). It was a ceremonial occasion, something done together. (Ironically, these original cigar smokers called the plant leaves they were smoking cohiba, and they called the tube tobacco. So our tobacco plants are misnamed. With a disregard for native preference that would later prove typical of European dealings with the New World's residents, Europeans came to refer to these interesting smokable leaves by a name actually given to the tube that held them.)
Visitors to all parts of the so-called New World soon discovered, over the next few centuries, that tobacco smoking (or should we call it cohiba smoking?) was deeply rooted in the continent's highly-developed native cultures as a way of celebrating rites-of-passage. Native Americans living near the Pacific Northwest Coast observed the potlatch ceremony, in which significant life events were observed via gift exchanges and sharing of wealth. Tobacco was a popular gift item at these ceremonies. Potlatch is still kept today by numbers of Native peoples.
Cigars came more and more to be associated with gift-giving by the European cultures. During the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, cigars were hard-to-find luxury items, which made them, of course, highly meaningful gifts. They were also used as a means of exchange - you could tip your butcher, baker, or candlestick-maker with a cigar. Given such a history of emotional associations, it's no wonder that even hardcore nonsmokers will sometimes give bubblegum cigars to their new-parent friends.
This history makes cigars a great gift idea for all sorts of occasions. We all know about new parents and bachelors, but here are some other times to consider giving cigars as gifts:
Birthdays. Hey, why not? If tobacco smoking at its best is festive and convivial, what's more festive and convivial than the celebration of a friend's birthday? A box of fine cigars makes a fine addition to any birthday party; they can be passed around and thoughtfully smoked as a way of prolonging the moment and making the party special.
Anniversaries. There's something about smoking a fine cigar that slows down the moment - and that's just what you need when you're reflecting on the meaning of a long-lasting marriage or other domestic partnership.
Weddings. With a box of fine cigars, you avoid the necessity of anticipating whether someone else already picked up that fondue pot you had your eye on - or that microwave you put on layaway - etc. If someone else buys the same box, hey, you can never have too many cigars. They can be passed out among the wedding party, or saved by the bride and groom for a special occasion.
Graduations. Assuming it's an age-appropriate gift, what's more of a rite-of-passage than a graduation - college, graduate school, basic training, a job-training program, or any other such triumphant moment? Cigars make great gift ideas for any of these occasions.
New jobs. When your friend in the next cubicle secures that promotion-from-within, show her or him that you're proud and supportive - and maybe secure a little loyalty in return. Give a gift of cigars.
New relationships. A new love in someone else's life is a chance for you, as the person's friend, to show that you're supportive. Why not give the new couple a box of smokes to enjoy together?
Challenges met. When someone in your life meets a longtime personal goal - finishing that novel, running that marathon, achieving a black belt, winning that lead part in a play, or conquering a phobia - give the gift that says Relax. You've earned it.
Remember to choose quality hand-rolled, long-filler premium cigars from a quality cigar outlet or online store.
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