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Paul Bunyan and Big Blue Ox Day
"🎶 Out of the North Paul Bunyan blew,
Riding a nine-day blizzard through,
Carrying an ox the color of blue,
Lumberman just lookin’ for some work to do.
Blizzard ended and he gazed around,
from the State of Maine to Puget Sound,
said, “Boys now look at the job I’ve found
gonna trim the whole U.S. A. right down to the ground!”
Trees started fallin’,
the ox started haulin’,
They chopped and piled the logs up ten miles tall.
Gouged out the prairie
and poured the Great Lakes in to float them all.
And the ox roared, “Bunyan! Paul Bunyan!!!”
~ Paul Bunyan Tall Tales, Leo Paris, set to music by Elie Siegmeister, 1947
It's a day for tall tales, huge flapjack breakfasts, log rolling, and taking your giant blue ox for a stroll! Happy Paul Bunyan Day with the "Buffalo Plaid" or "Buffalo Check", the fanciful names for the Rob Roy (MacGregor) tartan. Legendary folk hero, lumberjack Paul Bunyan, a giant of a man "63 axe handles high" is part of the historic folklore of the American north, whose deeds and exploits stem from the humourous stories and tall-tales shared around old logger campfires in the early 20th century. In the mid-1800s, a clothing company from New England produced the checked-patterned shirt which immediately became popular with workers and outdoorsman in Canada and the United States, and eventually became closely associated with lumberjack Paul Bunyan. In the past, Paul Bunyan celebrations have included parades, live bands, and contests that included beard growing, tobacco spitting, tall-tale-telling, and log-rolling.! 🪓 🌲 🥞 🐂 💙
The "Buffalo Plaid" (Rob Roy Macgregor tartan) pattern has come to be loosely associated with the giant mythological lumberjack of North American folklore, Paul Bunyan, whose legendary exploits include creating Minnesota's ten thousand lakes (including Lake Bemidji, which resembles Paul's giant footprint), and digging the Grand Canyon, by dragging his axe behind him!
Paul is customarily accompanied in these exploits by his companion, Babe or Blue, a giant ox, who was measured seven feet (or seven ax-handles) between his eyes, and fourteen feet between his horns.
The character of Paul Bunyan originated in the oral traditions of North American loggers, possibly related to a real person who figured in the 1837 Papineau Rebellion in Canada.
In the Two Mountain region in St. Eustache, Canada, the local French Canadians revolted against their new ruler, the Queen of England. Many local loggers joined the cause refusing to surrender to the English troops sent to quash the rebellion. The loggers armed themselves with axes, mattocks and large wooden forks they had steam bent into hooks. One of the rebels, a large bearded mountain man named Paul Bunyan, cut a wide swath amongst the Queen's troops. This Paul survived the rebellion and became highly respected among the loggers of the region for his deeds in battle. It is believed that exaggerrated tales of this Paul, along with those of other loggers, melded into the bunkhouse tales told by loggers to amuse themselves and impress tenderfoots.
It is believed that this particular tartan/plaid was introduced to North America by a descendant of Rob Roy - 'Jock McCluskey,' a sometimes lawman, bounty hunter, fur trapper, gold miner and eventually, Indian trader.
For some classic tall tales of Paul and babe, click their illustration.