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What are hammocks?
A hammock is essentially a piece of fabric that is hung between two points. You can use hammocks for reading, sleeping or simply relaxing. Because the hammock swings gently, lying in a hammock is a very relaxing experience.
Where does the word hammock come from?
The hammock epitomises the Latin American attitude to life like nothing else, as you may have seen for yourself in the Caribbean, Brazil or Mexico.
In the north-east of Brazil, Caribbean countries and the tropical regions of Latin America, life without a hammock is unthinkable. Something that almost nobody knows is that Columbus discovered not only America, but also the hammock. He brought it back to Europe on great voyages of discovery, where it became especially popular with the sailors of the colonial era. Nowadays, the hammock is a favourite among children, couples, families, travellers and therapists. Its goal is to provide relaxation and comfort. There are also practical reasons to use a hammock: it doesn't take up much space, and it's really easy to set up or put away - it just takes a matter of seconds to hang it up or take it down.
The origin of the hammock
The hammock's origin is with the Indians of Central and South America (Taíno). These indigenous people had known they were onto something for a long time, because for many hundreds of years they had described the hammock as the "cradle of the Gods". The first hammocks were made from the bark of the Hamack tree, which gave the 'hamaka' its Taíno name. This became 'hamaca' in Spanish, the language of the European explorers, and over time this morphed into the English word 'hammock'.
The hammock at sea
In the Bahamas on 17 October 1492, only five days after his arrival, Columbus first discovered the hammock - according to his notes, he was surprised to find that "people slept in nets between trees". He introduced the hammock to Europe, where it became particularly popular with sailors at the time. Instead of having to sleep on the damp, hard deck, where it was dirty and black with vermin, they could now relax in a hammock and let the waves gently rock them.
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