I was four years old when I received my own Winnie the Pooh Bear as a gift from my parents. That sweet stuffed bear was my bedtime companion for a long time, and even as a teen, Pooh always had an honored place on my bed.
I still have that Pooh bear.
Today, January 18, is Winnie the Pooh Day, a holiday created to celebrate the birth of A.A. (Allan Alexander) Milne in 1882, the English author of many children’s books but also the creator of Winnie the Pooh.
Winnie the Pooh was initially created in 1924 but has been a childhood favorite for generations. For Gen-X kids like me, we read the books and watched the Disney animated stories of Pooh and his friends Sunday evenings on “The Wonderful World of Disney” TV program. When my boys were growing up, we read the stories together and watched the same movies – only now it was on VHS or DVD.
For Winnie the Pooh Day, here are 11 reasons why we love Winnie the Pooh, that silly ol’ bear.
Pooh really was based on a real-life bear.
Milne gave his son, Christopher Robin, a teddy bear for his first birthday in 1921. Originally named Edward, it was changed to Winnie after a visit to London Zoo. Winnie was the famous black bear at the zoo from Winnipeg, Canada.
“Pooh” is because of a swan.
The “Pooh” part of the name comes from a swan. On vacation to West Sussex, England, Milne’s son fed the swan every morning. It is said that Christopher Robin would say “oh pooh” when the swan would not respond to him. In his first book, Milne fused the two names and explained that the bear is a bit “pooh.”
Pooh was created in 1924.
Pooh was created in 1924 when the first-ever illustration was drawn by E.H. Shepherd. It was featured in Milne’s book of poetry called “When We Were Very Young.” It wasn’t until 1925 that the bear was published with the name Winnie-The-Pooh. Milne’s first collection of stories to feature Winnie-The-Pooh was written in 1926. The book was titled Winnie-The-Pooh. The second book, “The House at Pooh Corner,” was released in 1928.
You can listen to an audiobook of “Winnie-the-Pooh” for free.
Golden Audiobook offers the book, comprised of five stories, for free on their website. It is delightfully narrated by Stephen Fry, Judi Dench, and cast.
Christopher Robin’s stuffed toys were an inspiration.
As with Pooh, Milne included his son’s other toys in his stories. The exception was Owl and Rabbit, added later for variety.
Hundred Acre Wood is a real place.
Pooh’s home is based on Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, England. Milne’s country home, Cotchford Farm, was located here.
Pooh didn’t always wear red. Or a shirt.
While we are used to seeing Pooh wear the famous red shirt, that addition was given to Pooh by Stephen Slesinger. In 1930 he acquired all rights to Winnie-The-Pooh, from A.A. Milne, and his first color drawing in 1932 shows the iconic red t-shirt. Later in 1961, Disney tweaked the character into what he is today.
Winnie the Pooh is really a star.
The famous bear has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one of only 16 fictional characters to be honored that way.
Pooh visited Buckingham Palace.
Because Pooh and Queen Elizabeth were born in the same year, 1926, a unique 90th birthday story was created in 2016, where Pooh visits the Queen to celebrate. “Winnie the Pooh and the Royal Birthday” was written by Jane Riordan and illustrated similarly to the original pre-Disney drawings. (She went on to complete “Winnie-the-Pooh Goes to London.”) For the Queen’s 95th birthday, Disney created a 45-second animation called “Winnie the Pooh and the Royal Adventure.”
Pooh speaks many languages.
Winnie-The-Pooh stories have been translated into 50 languages, including Latin. According to Wikipedia, the 1958 Latin translation, “Winnie ille Pu” was the first foreign-language book (and the only book in Latin) to be featured on the New York Times Best Seller List.
Pooh says the sweetest things.
Disney had a vote for the most important Winnie the Pooh quotes. Favorites include: “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think” and “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” (Personally, I like “I’m so rumbly in my tumbly.”)