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Why is it customary to smoke cigars after a baby is born? When and where are you supposed to smoke them?

We take it for granted… the second that bouncing baby arrives, the “It’s a Girl” or “It’s a Boy” cigars get pulled out and passed around. For some non-smokers, this can be a thoroughly confusing time. In these politically correct times, the idea of a cigar coming anywhere near a hospital can be hard to accept. Where did this tradition come from?

Some of our veteran smokers out there will tell you — with a wistful smile on their face — about the days when you could smoke inside… even inside the waiting room of a hospital! But the tradition goes even further back. Before hospitals were widely available, childbirth took place at home, with (hopefully) the help of a doctor on call. In the old days, men waited in another room while the messy business of having a baby was handled by his wife and a medical professional or midwife. A cigar could really help pass the time, as being in labor isn’t exactly a quick and easy process.

Some claim it goes even further back, tracing the tradition to American Indians who exchanged gifts to celebrate the birth of a child, with a primitive cigar being a very prized offering.

Now that you have a vague idea of where the tradition comes from (exchanging gifts and being bored while your wife endures the some of the worst pain of her life), when and where are we supposed to smoke these things? There are a couple humorous suggestions:

“The next time you get together with your friends… about twelve years from now.”

“While you are holding/feeding said baby…. Disclaimer: Do not actually do this. You will make the baby smell bad.”

But seriously, it’s completely up to you. If you’re a cigar aficionado, it may be hard to resist ducking out of the hospital to get a little bit of much-needed reflection and relaxation while the nurses and doctors do their thing and your wife passes out from exhaustion (or drugs). I would definitely wait until you know everything is OK, which could obviously be a while.

The truth is, we suspect many “It’s a [insert gender here]” cigars go unlit, unsmoked, and eventually end up in the trash.  If nothing else, it’s traditional gesture of goodwill, one that will likely endure for a long time to come. We suggest that if you’re going to hand out some celebratory cigars, go with some good ones, like these.