While taking puffs from a cigar, have you ever thought from where this tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco came. For all those pondering over the issue, here is jotted some interesting information on the background of Cigar. The history of the cigar goes back to 2,000 years though its origin details are lost in the time. Some scholars believe that the term ‘cigar’ originated from ‘sikar’, which is the Mayan word for smoking. Supposedly the cigar has its origins within Central America, where the Mayans and later the Aztecs used to smoke. These people were identified to have smoked pipes of loosely rolled tobacco leaves, resembling the existing cigars.
When the American continent, together with West Indies, was discovered by Columbus, several accounts were written about these New World people who smoked tobacco. In fact, they also used tobacco for chewing. The return of Columbus marked the arrival of the practice of smoking to Europe, in 1492. During his stay in the New World, he had been presented some dried leaves as a token of friendship. There his men learnt how these leaves were utilized. Though Columbus himself was not especially impressed by the custom, the Spanish and other European sailors got attracted to the habit. Later the conquistadores and colonists fell for smoking.
On the second voyage of Columbus, a pastor named Ramon Pane brought tobacco seeds or plants to Europe. Eventually the frequent conquistadores introduced smoking of tobacco to Spain and Portugal. The habit was regarded as a sign of riches. It reached France, and through the French ambassador to Jean Nicot, Portugal in 1560. Several people are known for being the first to smoke in England. As far as citation reveals, tobacco was introduced to England somewhere before 1565, when Hawkins came back from his voyage. Sir Walter Raleigh is mainly credited for making the smoking habit fashionable. In the mid 16th century, around 1557, sailors were actually the first to be seen smoking cigars.
By 1580s, smoking became the style among the upper classes. In the American colonies, tobacco was smoked only in pipes even though the first tobacco plantations were established in Virginia in 1612 and Maryland in 1631. The cigar, itself, is believed not to have arrived until after 1762, when Israel Putnam who was an American general returned from Cuba. From there, he returned to Connecticut with a collection of Havana cigars, and large sum of Cuban tobacco. Cigar factories, soon, were established in the Hartford area. In the 1820s, the production of the leaves also began. At present, besides Cuba, Connecticut offers some of the best wrapper leaves for cigars.
In the early 19th century, Cuban cigars frequently used to get imported into the United States, and domestic production was also started. By the mid 1800s, the cigar became absolutely fashionable and over half of the tobacco smoked in the towns was in the figure of cigars. During the depression, in the early 1920s, the consumption of tobacco fell drastically and cigar manufacturers included designs and colors in packaging to promote their brands. Undoubtedly Cuba guided the way of the cigar industry. In the early 16th century, Cuban peasants became tobacco cultivators. Later on, the cigar became the national symbol of Cuba. And even today, the Havana Cigar is acclaimed as the finest cigar in the world.