The much-awaited day of lovers across the world – Valentine’s Day on Feb 14 – is preceded by Valentine’s Week that starts from Feb 7 with Rose Day; and, it is Teddy Day today (Feb 10) when lovebirds will be gifting each other the iconic stuffed bear.
Here are 10 fun facts about the teddy bear that you would like to know:
1. Do you know what to call a person who is too fond of or loves collecting teddy bears? – Arctophile, which combines the Greek words arctos (bear) and philos (loving/fond of).
2. The first toy bear is believed to be made by German toy maker Margarete Steiff in 1902 that was a jointed, stuffed one.
3. However, it was the 26th President of the US, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, who was the inspiration behind the first teddy bear.
It was in November 1902 on a trip to Mississippi to settle a border dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana, Roosevelt refused to shoot a defenseless, black bear cub during his hunting spree.
Political cartoonist Clifford Berryman published the incident in his cartoon that caught the attention of Brooklyn shopkeeper Morris Michtom who asked his wife Rose to make two plush stuffed toy bears with black shoe buttons for eyes.
Later, Roosevelt gave Morris permission to name the toys “Teddy’s Bear”.
4. American multi-billionaire investor Paul Greenwood owned the largest collection of teddy bears.
In 2010, the US government auctioned his collection of 1300 teddy bears at Christie’s for £1.1 million.
5. Japanese company Fujitsu has manufactured a teddy bear robot for adults that can make simple gestures and even small talk with humans.
6. The term “bear hug” meaning a tight embrace was first used in 1846, almost 60 years before teddy bear was “born”.
7. It was English Romantic writer Robert Southey who brought bears into the literary scene with the fairy-tale ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ in 1834.
8. In 1912, when the Titanic sank during her first voyage, German toy maker Margarete Steiff made a black bear as mourning gifts to those who lost their friends and/or family in the accident.
9. Animation movie giant Walt Disney produced the first colour cartoon film featuring teddy bears – Alice and the Three Bears – in 1924.
10. The first British Teddy Bear Festival was held in 1989 in London.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.