Paul Bunyan Day 2025 is on Wednesday, February 12, 2025: Who is Paul Bunyan?

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Who is Paul Bunyan?

Tales of the Paul Bunyan type originated as separate anecdotes or "gags" “exchange” in competitive bragging or lying contests and involving "sells" and the pranking of greenhorns. "The best authorities," writes W. B. Langhead (and in this the experts all agree), "never recounted Paul Bunyan's exploits in narrative form. They made their statements more impressive by dropping them casually, in an offhand way, as if in reference to actual events of common knowledge." Such remarks often began with a phrase of reminiscence or reminder: "Time I was with Paul UP in the Big Onion country --"; "That happened the year I went up for Paul Bunyan"; "Did you ever hear of the -- that Paul Bunyan --?

James Stevens traced the mythical Paul Bunyan to a French-Canadian, logger named Paul Bunyan who won a reputation as a prodigious fighter in the Papineau Rebellion against the Queen in 1837, and later became famous as the boss of a logging camp--"he fight like hell, he work like hell, and he pack like hell" But whatever his historical origins, if any, Paul Bunyan-the superman in a world of super-gadgets-has become an American symbol of bigness and a proverbial character on which to tack an extravagant anecdote. Although the tradition has spread to many other occupations-the oil fields, the wheat fields, and construction jobs, Paul Bunyan tales are told popularly, outside of the industry more than within it, and depend for their effect upon pure exaggeration rather than upon occupational coloring.

The first appearance of Paul Bunyan in print seems to have been an advertising man's idea. In 1914 the Red River Lumber Company issued a booklet of tales which has since gone through twelve editions, gradually incorporating more and more advertising matter along with the original stories. To-day Paul Bunyan is the company's trademark: and "stands for the quality and service you have the right to expect from Paul Bunyan." The author and illustrator of these booklets, W. B. Laughead, who claims to have invented many of the names of characters and who is given credit for initiating the preservation of the Paul Bunyan stories, has never made clear whether Paul Bunyan dreamed up the lumber business or vice versa. There are no tales of Bunyan in Minnesota, Wisconsin, ect., verifiable before the late 1930s.


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Do you know who is Paul Bunyan?

Do you know who is Paul Bunyan?

Paul Bunyan was a mythological lumberjack in America and was also believed to be a giant. He had a gaint blue ox named Babe. The character was first documented in the work of American journalist James MacGillivray in 1910. In 1916, as part of an advertising campaign for a logging company, ad writer William Laughead reworked the old logging tales into that of a giant lumberjack and that started the modern Paul Bunyan legend.

As to the myth itself, at Bunyan's birth it took three storks to carry the oversized infant. When he was old enough to clap and laugh, the vibration broke every window in the house. When he was seven months old, he sawed the legs off his parents' bed in the middle of the night. Paul and Babe the Blue Ox dug the Grand Canyon when he dragged his axe behind him. He created Mount Hood by piling rocks on top of his campfire to put it out. Babe the Blue Ox was also a massive creature with exceptional strength. Among other subjects, a myth about the formation of the Great Lakes was created centered around Babe, i.e. Paul Bunyan needed to create a watering hole large enough for Babe to drink from. Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett were said to give Babe to Paul Bunyan, because they were all pioneers. As to his death, the Ojibwe myth has it that Nanabozho saved the forests from Paul Bunyan the lumberjack. They fought for forty days and nights, and Nanabozho killed him with a big fish and a pancake.

Well-known American folklorist and author, Richard Dorson cite Paul Bunyan as a good example of "fakelore", or a modern story passed off as an older folktale. Dorson was extremely critical of such fakelorism.

What inventions did Paul Bunyan make?

What inventions did Paul Bunyan make?

Paul Bunyan was not a real person.

Paul Bunyan is a mythical lumberjack in tall tales. French Canadians gave birth to the tales during the Papineau Rebellion of 1837, when they revolted against the young English Queen. In the Two Mountains area near St. Eustache, Québec, loggers stormed into battle, among them a fierce and bearded giant named Paul Bunyan. American loggers gave him Babe, the ox, and the mythical logging camp. By 1860, Paul Bunyan had become an American legendary hero, on the scale of Hercules or Asterix.

A lumberjack of huge size and strength, Paul Bunyan has become an old folkloric character in the American psyche. It is said that he and his blue ox, Babe, were so large their footsteps created Minnesota's ten thousand lakes. Babe measured 42 axe handles and a plug of chewing tobacco between his horns. He was found during the winter of the blue snow; his mate was Bessie, the Yaller Cow.

Like many myths, this explains a physical phenomenon. Bunyan's birth was strange, as are the births of many mythic heroes, as it took seventeen storks to carry the infant (ordinarily, one stork could carry several babies and drop them off at their parents' home). Paul and Babe dug the Grand Canyon by dragging his axe behind him. He is a classic American "big man" who was popular in 19th century America as an exemplar of a minority group.

The myth of Paul Bunyan can be traced back to James MacGillivray, a reporter for the Detroit News. He collected the stories from actual lumberjacks, and began disseminating the legend with the July 24, 1910 printing of The Round River Drive which included the following, concerning Dutch Jake (another mythical lumberjack of great strength) and the narrator participating in a Bunyan-sponsored contest to cut down the biggest tree in the forest.

"Dutch Jake and me had picked out the biggest tree we could find on the forty, and we'd put three days on the cut with our big saw, what was three crosscuts brazed together, making 30 feet of teeth. We was getting along fine on the fourth day when lunchtime comes, and we thought we'd best get to the sunny side to eat. So we grabs our grub and starts around that tree. 'We hadn't gone far when we heard a noise. Blamed if there wasn't Bill Carter and Sailor Jack sawin' at the same tree. It looked like a fight at first, but we compromised, meetin' each other at the heart on the seventh day. They'd hacked her to fall to the north, and we'd hacked her to fall to the south, and there that blamed tree stood for a month or more, clean sawed through, but not knowin' which way to drop 'til a windstorm came along and throwed her over."

Holidays also on this date Wednesday, February 12, 2025...