In honor of National Hammock Day, it’s only natural that we take a look at this icon of summer relaxation. Defined as a sling made of fabric, rope, or netting that is hung between two points, the hammock was originally used by natives of Central and South America. During the Spanish Conquest, Spanish colonials noted how comfortable the hammocks were for sleep and rest. By being suspended, the sleeper was protected from the hazards of their jungle environment: snakes, mosquito bites, biting ants just to name a few. Christopher Columbus introduced the invention to Europe when he returned home with a few from what is currently known as the Bahamas. Around 1590, the hammock was adopted by sailors aboard their ships to maximize space and comfort. The navy’s canvas hammocks swayed with the ship, helping with motion sickness and keeping sailors in their beds (in heavy seas sailors would be rolled out of their bunks). It was also adopted by explorers and soldiers travelling through wooded regions as it was easy to hang the hammock between two trees, and much more comfortable than sleeping on a bed of roots.
Today, the hammock is an icon of relaxation. Growing up in Maine we had a rope one hanging from the posts of our covered porch. I have pictures us three kids napping in it together. When we moved to Vermont, a hammock was the first thing we added to the backyard (forget garden design, a hammock takes priority). To me it’s the symbol of lazy summer afternoons swinging with a good book and maybe a dark and stormy in hand.
If you’re looking to procure your own hammock, Ten Thousand Villages has a couple that are handcrafted by artisans in Nicaragua. Why not support a good cause while you relax.