Paul Bunyan Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"He rode through the woods on a big blue ox,
He had fists as hard as choppin' blocks,
Five hundred pounds and nine feet tall...that's Paul."
~Paul Bunyan, Shel Silverstein, 1974
Lumberjacks and Loggers, it's your day to dance! Paul Bunyan, the mythical giant lumberjack and folk hero in American and Canadian folklore (along with his sometimes companion, an equally giant Big Blue ox named Babe), is known for his exploits which revolve around tall tales of his superhuman labors, and originated in the oral tradition of North American loggers. He has been the subject of various literary compositions, musical pieces, commercial works, and theatrical productions, and early illustrations helped popularize the tartan flannel workman's shirt and the Rob Roy tartan, which became known as a the Buffalo Plaid or Buffalo Check in the United States! 🪓 🌲
Terrace Logger's Jig
June 28th is Paul Bunyan Day, the giant lumberjack of American folklore!
Paul Bunyan first appeared in print in a 1910 article in a Detroit newspaper. The author, James McGillivray recalled stories about the giant lumberjack that he had heard while working in logging camps. In 1914 W. B. Laughead, a former lumberjack who worked in advertising for a lumber company, used stories and cartoons about Paul Bunyan to enliven a booklet about his company's products. Quickly capturing the imagination of the public, by 1939, statues of Paul Bunyan began appearing at World Fairs in New York and California. The legendary lumberjack has also inspired sculpture, paintings, plays, and even an opera.
In comic books, he even battled Dracula!
Paul Bunyan, it was said, was born in Maine. His most notable feature was his immense size and the strength that accompanied it. As a baby, he destroyed acres of forest simply by rolling around in his sleep. Bunyan did everything more intensely than normal people. He slept so soundly, for example, that it once took seven hours of cannon shots from the British navy to wake him!
Paul Bunyan logged throughout the upper Midwest and the Pacific Northwest and left his mark on many parts of the continent. He created the Grand Canyon by dragging a tool on the ground and dug the St. Lawrence River as well. He is also said to have driven whales out of the Great Lakes by attempting to harness them for hauling logs.
Bunyan's best-known companion was Babe, his giant blue ox. Babe measured 42 ax handles wide across the forehead and was strong enough to pull the bends out of a winding road!
In this dance, which is inspired by timber logging, the figures can be called out during the dance as:
"Mark the cutblock" for marking out the trees to be logged
"Cut them down, then buck them up" or "Timber" for sawing and felling trees
"Down the hill and into the mill" for hauling lumber
"Make some chips" for milling the lumber
See below for a video of the dance from the Bellingham, Washington Ball in 2009.
And for more about the legendary exploits of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, watch the 1958 Disney cartoon "Paul Bunyan" by clicking the 1955 Classic Illustrated cover.