November 24, 2011
Posted By Jason Gilpin, Contracting and Agreement Officer, USAID Regional Mission for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova
For many people around the world, Thanksgiving is a quintessentially American Holiday. This holiday combines an assortment; a plate of folklore, a great bounty of food, a side of sports and a generous helping of commercial mass media, all set out on a board of essential purpose – of giving thanks for who and what we have, and appreciating all the goodness of this world for all its worth.
The story of destitute Europeans arriving on a strange shore, being helped by erudite Native Americans and breaking bread together in thanks is legendary. Like any folk story, historically speaking, it is partly true and partly false. But also like any folk story, its intent and meaning are crucial, and its historical veracity, less so. For me, the folklore of the Indians and the Pilgrims brings to mind a cornucopia of important themes: America’s diversity; the ancient wisdom, respect and resourcefulness of the Native Peoples; the courage and conviction of the Pilgrim adventurers in crossing the unknown; and last but not least the appreciation, which is universal among all peoples, for our lives, liberty, land and bounty. (more…)
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…)