Bachelor parties, bachelorette parties; housewarmings and weddings; graduations (from college, anyway). To new fathers, new mothers, and the newly promoted. At business gatherings and neighborhood going-away-parties. To welcome new neighbors and to salute new life.
Cigars have long been recognized as perfect gift items for all these occasions. That's not a terribly surprising development, either, since tobacco has been associated with ceremony and significant occasions for pretty much the entire period that humans have been smoking it. Western explorers learned about tobacco smoking by observing Native Americans smoking it as part of social ceremonies and by having it given to them, a token of goodwill, by those same natives.
Tobacco then spread throughout Western Europe in part because Europeans continued to see it as a gift, a special treat, something to be brought out during significant occasions. Diplomats (especially France's ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicot, from whom we get the word nicotine) would give gifts of tobacco to the courts of other nations as a way of smoothing international relations; and in this way, smoking became part of European culture.
No wonder we still say (even, sometimes, non-smokers) "Have a see-gar!" to those who are celebrating some accomplishment. And no wonder even the religiously anti-tobacco folks will sometimes chew cigar-shaped gum, for example, when celebrating a new baby, or give out cigars that they don't intend for anyone to smoke!
But, oddly enough, some still don't think to give cigars for Christmas.
Who knows why? After all, they make a very sensible gift. Given the amount of trouble most of us find Christmas shopping to be, it seems as if the holiday season ought to be one of the tobacconist's boom times. Consider:
Everybody has at least one person on his or her gift list who elicits the question, "What do you get for the guy (or gal) who has everything?" Well, unless that gal or guy is a committed anti-smoker, get a box of high-quality cigars! After all, cigars are a fairly traditional way for the relatively successful to kick back.
Cigars satisfy that desire to give a unique Christmas gift, as well. Until everybody starts doing it, they're the type of gift that will help you keep the folks on your Christmas list guessing.
And, for those of us who don't live in, say, Texas or Hawaii, Christmas is associated with the coldest part of the year. A Christmas box of cigars will help your Midwestern or East Coast-dwelling Christmas gift recipients toasty.
Convinced? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
First of all, know your gift recipient. If she or he is asthmatic, dislikes smoking in all circumstances (which is not at all true of many non-smokers, who may like to indulge now and then), or heads up the local branch of the Smoke Banner's Association, she or he will probably not appreciate cigars under the tree. The non-smoker or occasional smoker who lights up several times a year and heartily enjoys it--or the committed smoker--those are the folks who will respond best.
Keep taste in mind as well. Generally, the darker the cigar, the sweeter the taste. If you can't figure out what kind a person might like, observe her or his choice of cigarettes (if the person is a regular smoker), or pay attention to tastes in food and alcohol. People with a taste for the stronger and bitterer kinds of beer, or folks who love their coffee concentrated and undiluted, will probably be able to enjoy many kinds of well-made premium cigars--the light-colored claros and double claros that tend to have a strong, bitter, distinct taste. Those who can't drink coffee without turning it into a sort of brownish milkshake, or who only drink fruity-tasting beers (Leinie's and the like), might be better off with maduros and oscuros. Or best of all, buy a premium-cigar sampler, choosing your own unique blend of many tastes.
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