November 23, 2011
Posted by: Oksana Kluchko, Journalist/Embassy Community Member
"The First Thanksgiving" (1915), by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (American painter, 1863-1930)
Thanksgiving Day is a truly great American holiday. It commemorates a series of events which took place in the 17th Century. It was on December 11, 1620 that the Pilgrims set ground on Plymouth Rock. Their first winter was devastating. At the beginning of the following fall, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast — including 91 Native Americans who helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. The feast was celebrated as a traditional English harvest festival that lasted three days.
Their supply of flour had been long diminished, so there was no bread or pastries of any kind. However, they did eat boiled pumpkin, and they produced a type of fried bread from their corn crop. There was also no milk, cider, potatoes, or butter. There were no domestic cattle for dairy products, and the newly-discovered potato was still considered by many Europeans to be poisonous. But the feast did include turkey, fish, berries, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums. (more…)
February 21, 2011
Posted by: Daniel Cisek, Deputy Press Attache
George Washington, the 1st U.S. President
The third Monday in February is a national holiday in the United States. Although commonly known as Presidents’ Day, the official name of it is Washington’s Birthday. The day honors our first president, George Washington, who was born on February 22. The holiday became connected with another important president, Abraham Lincoln, who was born on February 12. Lincoln’s birthday had been celebrated as a separate holiday in many states (and still is in a few), but was merged with Washington’s into a “Presidents’ Day” in many after the introduction of Martin Luther King Day in mid-January in order to keep the number of official days of work the same. This year the holiday falls on February 21.
It’s commonly said that George Washington was “first in the hearts of his countrymen.” Americans know and revere him for two major accomplishments: successfully commanding the United States army in the Revolutionary War, and establishing the limits on executive power as the first president of the United States. (more…)