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Taking Stock in your Hammock

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Hey, Hammock Enthusiasts!

If you’re attracted to the soft, swaying world suspended inside a cozy hammock, then you’ll be delighted to learn the origin of this awesome invention. Today, we’re doing a deep dive into the history of the hammock. While long outlived by crude beds, hammocks have still been around for a number of centuries, reaching slightly over a thousand years back. So, there’s a good amount of history to lay out…

Archeologists seem positive that hammocks saw their beginning in Central America, likely from the advanced Mayan civilization in the Yucatan Peninsula in modern-day Mexico which looks out on the Gulf of Mexico as well as the Caribbean Sea.The Mayans must have been living the good life, with hammocks set up looking out on the Caribbean Sea!

In its earliest days, the hammock was typically woven and fashioned out of tree bark. The tree with the best suited bark was referred to as the Hamack Tree in the Taino language—spoken by the indigenous people of the Yucatan Peninsula. They called these hanging beds ‘hamacas’.

While the Mayan’s may have invented hammocks, they weren’t the only ones to enjoy them. It’s surprising to discover that—even back in those days—trade routes among native tribes were so far-reaching as Central America to Brazil. Hammocks quickly became, not just a popular trading item, but THE thing to sleep on.

A suspended bed made good practical sense too. It prevented contact with the dirty ground and offered protection from snakes, rodents, and other dangerous or annoying animals. In those days, you wouldn’t dream of not owning a hammock. What else would you sleep on?!

Their popularity only increased and the name was solidified across the world when a certain Italian explorer Chris Columbus overheard this hanging bed referred to as a ‘hamaca’. He brought it back to show the Old World and kept the name (though it’s been modified over time).

Nowadays, we typically sleep through the night on our beds. Even so, hammocks haven’t gone away. You’ll see them randomly set up between two trees in a yard or even in the bedroom of a really cool kid.

Hammocks are magical. So, if your yard is blessed with one—go appreciate it! If not, go make friends with someone who owns one or get one for yourself! And, as always, thanks for reading!


- John

Posted in History Lessons


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