What lasts 24 hours, is dedicated to fun and games and makes you a winner? National Puzzle Day! Established in 2002, every January 29th is dedicated to puzzles of all sorts: jigsaw, word searches, crosswords, sudoku and more! Best of all, you win just by playing! That’s because any type of puzzle you do stimulates your brain and increases your neuropathic flexibility. Even just ten minutes a day keeps your brain younger and releases the brain’s “pleasure” chemicals that give you that ah sense of satisfaction.
While National Puzzle Day is relatively new, the history of puzzle making and playing is thousands of years old. As far back as 2300BC, ancient Egyptians made labyrinth drawing puzzles that provided games similar to the labyrinth maze games children play today. Jumping forward in time, around 1760, John Spilsbury, a London mapmaker and engraver, created the first known jigsaw puzzle. It was a map, naturally, glued to a flat piece of wood and then cut into lines following the countries. What a novelty they were for children and adults, largely affordable by only the very wealthy.
In the early 1900’s puzzles became a full-blown craze in the United States reaching an astonishing peak of popularity during the Great Depression in the 1930’s. At that time, manufacturers produced 10 million puzzles a week, and people could rent puzzles for a nickel a night. Recently, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, those numbers were topped with over 28 million puzzles sold in 2020 alone.
In the United States the creation of word search puzzles, our specialty, is credited to Norman E. Gitbat. In 1968 he began using it to draw attention to his short lived publication, Selenby Digest. While the digest didn’t make it, teachers quickly caught on to the word puzzles as learning tools, and the requests for more came pouring in.
Today, word puzzles are still fun, brain stimulating learning and play tools. Yoga for the Brain puzzle books take it even a step further providing puzzles that are not only entertaining but also uplifting. Check them out here enjoy National Puzzle Day!