The 29th of January is National Puzzle Day, a great time to challenge your brain with some fun mental activity. We use several different parts of our brains when solving puzzles like the crossword, jigsaw, and Sudoku.
Researchers have shown that putting together a jigsaw puzzle stimulates both hemispheres of the brain, leading to gains in short-term memory, processing speed, and the ability to think creatively and critically about complex problems. Puzzles are a great way to exercise the brain and boost a wide range of abilities.
History Of National Puzzle Day
Although puzzles as we know them now are a relatively recent development, the concept of repurposing words dates back to Roman times. Word squares and palindromes (a word or phrase that is written the same way forward and backward) were popular during this time period, as was the practice of shuffling letters around to form new words.
The origins of jigsaw puzzles are more modern. Before becoming a popular pastime, these puzzles were originally developed for educational purposes, particularly in the context of geography instruction.
In truth, it was likely a British cartographer and engraver named John Spilsbury who created the first jigsaw puzzles in the middle of the 1700s. At first, he affixed a map of Europe to a piece of wood and proceeded to carefully carve out each individual country. Then, they were used to educate kids about Africa’s many nations. Spilsbury’s World Map, Asia Map, Africa Map, and America Map were so well received by the public that he went on to publish similar maps.
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As puzzles gained in popularity, the industrial revolution facilitated the development of puzzle-making processes that resulted in smaller, lighter puzzles with a variety of themes. When the Great Depression hit the United States in the 1920s, puzzles were a popular hobby since they were inexpensive and could be used more than once; some families even traded puzzles with one another.
Of course, modern jigsaw puzzles are typically fabricated from cardboard layers that are bonded together and topped with a printed image. Pieces are manufactured by a type of laser cutting rather than the traditional usage of a jigsaw.
About the same time as the jigsaw puzzle was being created, the game Sudoku was being created as well. Despite its uniquely Japanese moniker, this number-based puzzle has its origins in Switzerland, where it was first known as Latin Squares.
However, the modern version of Sudoku didn’t emerge until 1979, when a puzzle appeared in an Indiana, USA, word games magazine. Number Place was its original name; Sudoku didn’t become popular in Japan until five years later. That ended up being the permanent moniker.
Even more recently established, crossword puzzles first appeared in print in 1913. The legend states that it was only created because New York World editor Arthur Wynne wanted something to fill up space in the “fun” section of his paper around the holiday season. From the moment it was released, the “Word Cross Puzzle” was a huge hit.
These are only a few examples of puzzles, but there are many more out there. Brain teasers, logic puzzles, cryptic puzzles, riddles, and many others can also be enjoyed on the day. To commemorate National Puzzle Day is a wonderful way to spend the day.
How To Celebrate
Whether you want to enjoy it alone or with loved ones, this day can be a lot of fun. Here are a few suggestions for passing the time:
Put Together a Puzzle
The simplest and clearest approach to rejoice in this occasion is also the most straightforward. Just grab a puzzle from the back of the closet and spread it out on the dining room table. Pick up a crossword from a puzzle book or the paper. A smartphone puzzle app is another option.
Make A Brain Teaser
Some people get more enjoyment out of creating puzzles than solving them. Word search puzzles, in which words are strung together and hidden within a block of letters, are among the simplest puzzles to create. Make your own crossword or Sudoku if you like.
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Making a wooden jigsaw puzzle from scratch is a great activity for anyone with access to a carpentry shop and a child who would love it. Alternatively, you might do something as basic as this with a group of kids: have them design a picture on a piece of paper, then have them cut it out in an inventive way using scissors or a crafting knife, and then have them reassemble the pieces.
Enjoy A Puzzle Sandwich
Instead of cutting your sandwich into triangles, get imaginative and cut it into forms that can be rearranged and reassembled. It’s a tasty treat that can also be played with!