Cigars have traditionally been smoked in celebration of Life's greatest moments. Just had a baby? Have a cigar! Got that big promotion? Have a cigar! Burned your mortgage? Have a cigar! Won the championship game? Cigars all around!
I've never really known when or where the celebratory cigars ritual originated, but I did find a thread on the discussion boards at StraightDope.com that provided some background on the tradition of giving out cigars after the birth of a child:
"The custom of giving away cigars to celebrate the birth of a child had its origin in the latter part of the 17th century. Cigars were quite rare throughout the land - they were to be treasured, guarded, and in most cases were equally as good, if not better, than the currency of the land. Thus, when a man parted with a cigar it was an expression of deep emotional appreciation...The birth of a child, especially a boy, meant the continuation of the family name, a child to imbue with masculine wisdom, and the confirmation of the father's virility. The men could get together and celebrate the event with a shared bonding experience..."
It seems clear that what began as a tradition for celebrating the arrival of a new child, naturally came to symbolize other momentous occasions in society. (I bet the cigars they were celebrating with back then were Cuban cigars, too.) And although this "shared bonding experience," can be witnessed simply by walking into any busy cigar lounge, the opportunity to share cigars following life-changing events seems to suggest a much more liberating experience, especially for those in the group who don't usually smoke cigars. It is in this context in which the following quote from the writer above is most apropos: "The gift of a cigar has always bespoken the donor's 'share my happiness,' and the intrinsic meaning of this gesture has not changed."
Being a cigar smoker, I get a kick out of seeing those who normally don't smoke cigars partaking, say, at a wedding, or when a sports club has won a major victory. Sure, some of the cigars don't get finished, which is a bit frustrating for someone like me, especially if the cigars are Fuente-Fuente OpusX or Padron Anniversary's. But during that window of celebration cigars rule the day, and will hopefully continue to do so for generations to come.