Each year on the 18th January, National Winnie the Pooh Day is celebrated in honour of his creator’s birthday, A. A Milne, born January 18th, 1882.
The loveable bear with his unshakable love of honey was inspired by a black bear who lived at the London Zoo during WWI. Originally owned by a resident of Winnipeg, Canada, she was given the name “Winnie” as a nod to her hometown. Milne’s son, Christopher Robin, would often visit the bear (and was even rumoured to hang out in her cage with her!) and eventually named his own teddy bear in her honour. Milne began creating his sweet adventures about his son and his bear in 1926.
All the other characters including Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Kanga and Roo were based on Christopher Robin’s other stuffed animals which can be seen on display in the New York Public Library in New York, sadly without Roo who was lost when Christopher Robin was 9.
The fictional Hundred Acre Wood derives from Five Hundred Acre Wood in Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, where Milne would often take Christopher walking.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that Disney bought the rights to the collection of books and proceeded to create many Pooh cartoon movies, a television show as well as Pooh-related merchandise. In 1993, the Walt Disney Company confirmed Pooh Bear was second only in popularity to Mickey Mouse the world over, a testament to how Milne’s characters captured the hearts of parents and children alike.
The popularity of Winnie the Pooh and his friends continue to this day, and the classic children’s stories have been translated into over 50 languages. The heart of the stories has never changed, and Winnie the Pooh is very much a work that comforts rather than challenges.
National Winnie the Pooh Day has been observed since 1986 and is a day to take turns reading about the adventures of Winnie the Pooh, to eat honey, watch a Winnie the Pooh movie or even listen to songs like ‘Return to Pooh Corner’ by Kenny Loggins whilst celebrating A. A Milne and the world he created.