There are many good reasons to fire up a stogie in the yard. Yet, folks like me would argue that a real enthusiast doesn’t need a reason at all. Why can’t the cigar be the reason? Still, there are some occasions that demand a good smoke. Take cigar rituals and traditions, for example. They have carried good cigars through the years and given plenty of aficionados even more reasons to smoke. Think new babies, young newlyweds, that big business deal you’ve been working on for months and more.
There is a delightful nostalgia to the notion that some cigars can be more than momentary pleasures. When enjoyed under specific circumstances, cigars grow into a tradition or ritual. So, here are the top four cigar rituals to give you even more reasons to kick back with a good smoke.
The Victory Cigar
The origin of tobacco smoking is attributed to the Native peoples of North and South America. But, it was the Spanish who brought the plant back to Europe. From there, it developed a following among upper-class merchants and statesmen.
Back in the Americas, Spanish conquistadors adopted the Native practice of enjoying rolled tobacco on the battlegrounds, immediately after the victory. Rumor states that the curling smoke would lead the souls of the fallen to the afterlife while cleansing survivors of the stench of blood and war.
Today, I’ll have a victory cigar just for making through to Friday. It might be a different field of battle, but hey, a victory is a victory, and a warrior is a warrior.
The Status Cigar
When tobacco first arrived in Europe in the 15th century, it was in short supply. But, in the Americas, cigar-smoking was commonplace for sailors, soldiers, and fieldworkers. Europeans had to pay a hefty premium for the dried leaves. As a result, the only people who could afford cigars were royal and wealthy.
Over the next few centuries, cigar-smoking became known as something only the well-to-do could afford. This changed after tobacco was commercial-grown and harvested. Yet, you can still find a few celebrities and businessmen who keep an unlit cigar dangling from their mouths. The reason is for none other than to flex their social standing.
Philosophically, I tend to side more with the Northern English noblemen of the late twentieth century. It was then that some gentleman cigar smokers took to the habit of removing the band from their cigar. For them, it was the act of flourishing the brand (and the price) into something of a social faux-pas.
The New Baby Cigar
The image of a sweating, nervous father-to-be pacing the hospital waiting room with a pocketful of stogies is something that you only see in the movies. In fact, bringing a lit cigar anywhere near a delivery room today will likely have you removed from the building.
Still, this cigar tradition celebrates the birth of a child and has managed to survive through the centuries. Most historians agree this tradition likely came from native tribes in North America. The tribes held a “Potlatch” ceremony to exchange gifts with one another to commemorate births and weddings. Primitive cigars were among the gifts often given and were highly prized.
The Thoughtful Cigar
The connection between tobacco smoke and the spirit world is strong in Native American spiritual tradition. Many tribes consider smoke to be a ‘collecting’ agent. In other words, it can lift spirits, ideas, and prayers to the ancestors above. For tribal leaders and medicine men, the thoughtful smoking of sacred tobacco is a pathway to a clearer understanding.
Anyone who enjoys a cigar in the peaceful quiet of a mid-summer dusk might agree that there is something contemplative about a slowly-smoke. Likewise, there is something in the shared experience of tobacco that brings us together in conversation.
I’m not anticipating a kid, planning to defeat an opposing army or feel the need to become a wealthy shipping merchant. So, I’m going to go ahead and call the thoughtful cigar my personal favorite of all four of the top cigar rituals.
Photo credit: Elvert Barnes on VisualHunt/CC BY-SA