The Eleventh Finger Given by God — The Cigar

Winter comes, and then snow falls. Snow seems to be born to give any place fairytale vibes. It is a fortunate coincidence that Tsemou Hsu, born in Hangzhou, lived in such a place in the north of China, a place that led him to coin the name Xue Jia.

The Name of the Cigar

In 1924, Tsemou Hsu returned from Berlin to Shanghai during the autumn. Once back, he met a kind scholar, Tagore, who was a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. One day, Tagore was describing his ideas and viewpoints with a cigar in his mouth when suddenly Tagore posed a curious question to Tsemou Hsu, “Do you have a name for cigar in Chinese?” Tsemou smiled and answered, “The ash of cigar is white as snow, and its tobacco is curly as nightshade. How about we call it Xue Jia!” From then on, the cigar went by this romantic name.

If there was no Tsemou Hsu, the cigar might have another name in Chinese. Thanks to Tsemou Hsu’s talent and his romantic creativity that vividly transformed the cigar’s soul into the Chinese name Xue Jie, he gave meaning and mysterious strength to the culture of tobacco. That’s why many people regard the cigar as the eleventh finger given by God, showing their craze for cigars.

The History of the Cigar

Tracing back to 1492 when Columbus brought cigars back from the newly found continent, cigar smoking spread like a virus among Westerners. Many writers, politicians, businessmen, and common people fell deeply in love with the tobacco product. “If I cannot smoke cigars in heaven, I shall not go!” said Mark Twain. Mark Twain had tried to quit smoking several times, but it caused him to lose inspiration. Therefore, some historians note that Mark Twain’s inspirations came not only from his talent, experiences, and anger but also from tobacco.

The Meaning of the Cigar

To many writers, smoking cigars is not for show nor for feigning elegance; its mellow smell can bring joy and a clear headspace for reflecting.

To many politicians, cigars bring a sense of solemnity, seriousness, cautiousness, and good temper. Out of all the American presidents, 19 of them were addicted to cigars. Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is also known as the biggest fan of cigars; he had said, “I drink a great deal. I sleep a little, and I smoke cigar after cigar. That is why I am in two-hundred-percent form.”

Except during worship, public images of Churchill always portray him with a cigar in this mouth. In fact, he loved cigars so much that his favorite size of cigar has also been named the Churchill. One statistic stated that Churchill smoked at least 10 cigars per day, or about 250,000 throughout his lifetime. That’s 46 kilometers of cigars, weighing around 3,000 kilograms in total.

The Love of the Cigar

Every cigar has a different flavor; even the same cigar has different smells at different points as you smoke it. Perhaps this is the reason why so many cigar enthusiasts love them so much. To these people, they are not just smoking a cigar; they experience cigars just like they are savoring a glass of red wine. Cigars are like great pieces of art, evoking irresistible and unforgettable sensations.

There was a time my English friend talked with me about cigars. He told me that in Britain, being invited for afternoon tea or for dinner is mostly out of being polite. It’s only when someone invites you to relax in the sunshine with them and smoke cigars in their backyard that you are truly friends.

During the Victorian period, there were special smoking rooms for British gentlemen who fancied cigars. Today, there are seldom such establishments for smoking cigars, yet people who truly appreciate cigars aren’t fazed by the location. To them, they are not merely smoking for its taste but for the luxury, maturity, elegance, independence, and even the spiritual baptism cigars provide.

However, there are some people who believe that only a private space, dedicated time, and a sincere attitude can make one have an authentic cigar experience. They never tire of using a whole workshop of tools for a cigar; they carefully cut the tip, strike a light, wait for it to warm up, and then deeply inhale the smoke into the bottom of their lungs. They rid themselves of all the troubles and frustrations of the day as the smoke seemingly blows all their worries away. It is as if it’s a religious experience.

Comparing this serious philosophy, smoking cigars can be as relaxing and refreshing as getting together with friends, chatting and laughing. Between the air and smoke, everything can be abandoned. Cigars play thousands of roles for everyone in the world; a young man smokes a cigar in a bar or at a party to show off his elegant tastes, and a working man smokes cigars to free his mind.

Therefore, why do we enjoy cigars so much? Su Shi mentioned in HeZeYioShengChiHuiJiu, “Every experience is a part of your life’s journey, which is accidentally and spontaneously happening. There is no pattern to track or follow its trail.” Life is so short that everything which happens in the process is just a small trail. Thus, every individual deserves a better mind for experiencing new things. All these feelings will envelop you the moment you light up a good cigar; you will be consumed by its charming effect and smoky vibes.


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