The origin of the word “hippie” derives from “hipster” which was first coined by Harry Gibson in 1940 in a song titled “Harry the Hipster” (as Harry referred to himself). Hipsters were beatniks who had moved into New York City’s Greenwich Village. Beatniks were followers of the Beat Generation literary movement who through their writings, promoted anti-conformist attitudes and ideals. The first clearly used instance of the term “hippie” occurred on September 5, 1965 in the article “A New Haven for Beatniks” by San Francisco journalist Michael Fallon (who was writing about the Blue Unicorn coffeehouse). Similar counter culture movements had occurred in Germany between 1896 and 1908. Known as Wandervogel (which translates roughly to “migratory bird”), the youth movement arose as a countercultural reaction to the urbanization that was occurring in Germany at the time.
Wandervogel youth opposed traditional German values and forms of entertainment and instead emphasized amateur music and singing, creative dress, and communal outings involving hiking and camping. They were a back to the earth generation who yearned for the simple, sparse, back to nature spiritual life of their ancestors. In later years, the Wandervogel Germans immigrated to the United States where they opened many West Coast area health food stores. Many moved to Southern California. Over time other Americans adapted the beliefs and practices of the Wandervogel youth. Songwriter Eden Ahbez wrote a hit song called Nature Boy that was inspired by the Wandervogel follower, Robert Bootzin. The song helped popularized health consciousness, yoga, and organic food throughout the United States.
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