A Day For Word Play: Celebrating National Crossword Puzzle Day

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From menus to novels and e-mails to blogs, the average human eye is exposed to thousands—if not hundreds of thousands—of words each day. But while words may be everywhere, it’s not every day that we take time to sit back and think about them. National Crossword Puzzle Day—celebrated on December 21st—presents the perfect opportunity to show those words some love and challenge your brain in the process.

Whether you’re new to the scene or a precision puzzler, the following tidbits can help you “fill in the blanks” when it comes to personalizing your National Crossword Puzzle Day.

What’s a four-letter word for a few fun suggestions? T-I-P-S! And we’ve got plenty of them. Read on to learn more about National Crossword Puzzle Day and how you can celebrate it.

Interesting History Behind National Crossword Puzzle Day

National Crossword Puzzle Day isn’t just some arbitrary date set to honor a niche part of culture—it’s an occasion designed to celebrate the creation of the very first recorded crossword puzzle. And what’s truly surprising is that crosswords aren’t as old as some may think.

The first crossword puzzle appeared in New York World magazine on December 21st, 1913—just a touch over a hundred years ago. Arthur Wynne—an English journalist—devised the word game using a diamond shape grid that is unlike the criss-cross patterns of today. The puzzles quickly caught on and were features in most US newspapers throughout the 20s, leading to the eventual introduction of the famed New York Times Crossword that runs today.

Although it may be rare to see people picking up the Sunday papers to fill out a crossword today, this art of puzzling is not lost. In fact, it’s never been easier to get in on the crossword puzzle action.

Why Celebrate National Crossword Puzzle Day?

Besides being a fun and challenging pastime, filling out crosswords can offer a variety of benefits. Some of those include:

  • Brain Power – Crosswords give the brain an opportunity to flex different muscles than usual. When you start filling in those squares, you’re relying on memory recall, logic, and critical thinking skills. While there’s no conclusive evidence to say that crossword puzzles can prevent problems like dementia or memory loss, they do certainly help break the monotonous rhythm that the brain can easily fall into. If nothing more, these puzzles will introduce you to new words that can expand your vocabulary and overall fluency.
  • There’s Something for Everyone – Some wordsmiths can breeze through the notoriously difficult Saturday crossword from The New York Times, but what about the rest of us who want in on the action? Not a problem. In the seemingly endless array of options, you can easily find puzzles tailored to your interests (such as movies) and difficulty level.
  • A Break for the Eyes – Although many people do crossword puzzles online, going old-school has its benefits. Filling out a paper puzzle gives the eyes a chance to rest from tiring blue light smartphones and computers are known for. And for people who do have trouble with their eyes, or for younger children, take a look at large print crossword puzzle books.

Ways to Celebrate National Crossword Puzzle Day

The easiest way to celebrate National Crossword Puzzle Day is to find your nearest newspaper and get cracking. You might also cuddle up on the couch with a book of puzzles or use your work break to play a crossword app on your phone. But this unique day doesn’t have to be a solo experience.

Here are a few ways you can get your friends and family in on the love of letters:

  • Make a Gift Out of It – Wrapped up in the middle of the holiday season, National Crossword Puzzle Day presents a perfect opportunity to give a small gift to others. Consider giving someone a puzzle book that fits their interests or even making a holiday card that presents a seasonal greeting in crossword form.
  • Start a Challenge – If you want to fire up your competitive spirit, consider challenging your friends, coworkers, or family members to complete a puzzle. First one done gets bragging rights—until next year’s holiday.
  • Create Your Own – If you want to be on the other side of the crossword, being your own puzzle maker can be a fun experience. For example, you might make puzzles with your kids as a way to practice spelling. If you run a business, you might consider offering industry-related DIY crosswords to customers—if they complete the puzzle you can offer them a small discount. Making your own puzzle doesn’t require an advanced degree in linguistics either; just visit PrintableCrosswordMaker.com and fill out the simple form to generate your creation.

Crossword Puzzle Tips

Crosswords may not be easy, but getting stuck shouldn’t leave you feeling cross. If you want to simplify your solving skills, you might:

  • Start Small – While solving a long word can feel rewarding, those shorter ones have their value. Focus on the smaller words first to slowly, but surely fill in the spaces.
  • Let the Spaces Bring You Closer Together – After staring at the same clues for a while, it may be hard to get past a difficult word. Ask a friend or family member for a new perspective.
  • Do Some Research – Do you think you know the word but aren’t sure of the proper spelling? Keep a trusty dictionary by your side to check your spelling. You may even want to pick up a special crossword puzzle dictionary if you play on really diving in! Do you know a word that’s similar to the clue, but it just won’t fit? Look to a thesaurus for synonyms that could help you fill in the blanks.

Just like the crossword puzzle itself, there are many ways to celebrate National Crossword Puzzle Day! We hope our suggestions make your celebration a red letter day.

Not a fan of crossword puzzles? There are other great options to engage in “word play” including classic games like Scrabble and Boggle!

Puzzles are addictive. So while National Crossword Puzzle Day may be over before you know it, there’s no reason you can’t stop teasing your brain. Check out our Toys, Games, and Hobbies section for more ideas on how to turn up your thought processes without having to dial down the fun.

Brian Novak, TopProducts Staff Writer