Hug a Bear day isn’t about the big fuzzy beasts that roam the forests munching on nuts and berries, and once a year or so busting out the fishing skills to scoop up salmon from the teeming rivers. Hugging one of those could in fact lead to a very bad day. They are instead about our favorite fuzzy knights of Yore.
They’re big and fuzzy and warm, they watch over us at night and keep the monsters in the closet and under the bed at bay. They’re often the first gift we’re ever given, and many of us carry them forward into our adult lives as ‘memoirs’ of our past. But we all know the real reason we still have them is our lives seem a little better, and a little saner, with our childhood protectors still working for us.
History of Hug a Bear Day
The history of stuffed animals goes back a long ways, some archaeological evidence suggests as far as Ancient Egypt. What is known for certain is that plush toys as we know them first started hitting the scene in the 1830’s, but the most iconic of all of them, the Teddy Bear, came about in 1902. Story goes that American President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was hunting, and refused to shoot a baby bear they came across.
Since that day the Teddy Bear has stood as the childhood toy that is given to almost every child. The term “Teddy” was even derived from the name of this self-same president. There are now millions of Teddy Bears produced every year, in a rainbow of styles and colors. No matter what your imagination may produce, there is sure to be a Teddy Bear that meets your idea of the perfect fuzzy protector.
- Other famous bears are… Winnie the Pooh, Paddington Bear, Yogi Bear & Boo Boo, Care bears, Smokey the Bear, Fozzie Bear (from The Muppet Show), The three Bears (friends of Goldilocks), Gummi bears, Rupert, Corduroy, Little John (from Disney’s Robin Hood cartoon) and the Berenstain Bears.
- Baloo, from the Jungle Book movie is a Sloth bear.
- Koalas look like they could belong to the bear family and are often called bears, but they are, in fact, marsupials.
- Winnie the Pooh was based on a real bear. A Canadian soldier bought a black bear cub from a hunter during World War I, and the animal became a pet and mascot for his troop. The bear, named Winnipeg, later was given to the London Zoological Gardens, where Christopher Robin Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh author A.A. Milne’s son, took such a liking to her that he named his teddy bear after her.
- Between 2009 and 2010, British company ISPY sent teddy bear Raymondo on a trip that gave him the status of the world’s most traveled toy mascot. In less than a year, he traveled 395,605 miles, hitting six continents and 35 countries with airline crew members and sponsors.
- Magellan T. Bear became the first teddy bear in space when he boarded Space Shuttle Discovery in 1995. But he wasn’t just a bear on holiday—he was the “education specialist” on the mission, having been a project for a Colorado elementary school. The teddy bear later flew around the world, visited the South Pole, and more.
- Jackie Miley, from Hilly City, South Dakota, has the world’s biggest teddy bear collection. As of 2012, she owned 8,026 cuddly bears.