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Originally International Women’s Day was called International Working Women’s Day. It is celebrated on March 8th every year. The first time it was celebrated was In New York on February 28, 1909, YES 1909!!, to remember the 1908 strike of the International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union in New York City.
In August 1910, an International Women’s Conference was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. 100 women from 17 countries met to promote equal rights. The following year on March 19, 1911 International Women’s Day was celebrated by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Women demanded that they be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against employment sex discrimination. (Well, some things haven’t changed). For many years it was predominately celebrated in socialist & communist countries. Hmmm…
Not until my generation was it embraced by the USA & much of the world. In 1975 The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day because it was also International Women’s Year. 1975!! Then in 1977 the United Nations invited its member to declare March 8th as the United Nations Day for women’s right and world peace.
“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” – Happy International Women’s Day!
The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, and traditionally ends the Chinese New Year period. In 2017 it falls on February 11.
Lantern Festival Facts
- Popular Chinese name: 元宵节 Yuánxiāojié /ywen-sshyaoww jyeah/ ‘first night festival’
- Alternative Chinese name: 上元节 Shàngyuánjié /shung-ywen-jyeah/ ‘first first festival’
- Date: Lunar calendar month 1 day 15 (February 11, 2017)
- Importance: ends China’s most important festival, the Spring Festival
- Celebrations: enjoying lanterns, lantern riddles, eating tangyuan a.k.a. yuanxiao (ball dumplings in soup), lion dances, dragon dances, etc.
- History: about 2,000 years
- Greeting: Happy Lantern Festival! 元宵节快乐！Yuánxiāojié kuàilè! /ywen-sshyaoww-jyeah kwhy-luh/
Lantern Festival Dates from 2017 to 2019
The Lantern Festival is on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month (always between February 5 and March 7).
The Lantern Festival is Very Important
The Lantern Festival is the last day (traditionally) of China’s most important festival, Spring Festival (春节 Chūnjié /chwn-jyeah/ a.k.a. the Chinese New Year festival). After the Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year taboos are no longer in effect, and all New Year decorations are taken down.
The Lantern Festival is also the first full moon night in the Chinese calendar, marking the return of spring and symbolizing the reunion of family. However, most people cannot celebrate it with their families, because there is no public holiday for this festival.
When Did the Lantern Festival Begin?
The Lantern Festival can be traced back to 2,000 years ago.
In the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220), Emperor Hanmingdi was an advocate of Buddhism. He heard that some monks lit lanterns in the temples to show respect to Buddha on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Therefore, he ordered that all the temples, households, and royal palaces should light lanterns on that evening.
This Buddhist custom gradually became a grand festival among the people.
How Do Chinese Celebrate the Lantern Festival?
According to China’s various folk customs, people get together on the night of the Lantern Festival to celebrate with different activities.
As China is a vast country with a long history and diverse cultures, Lantern Festival customs and activities vary regionally, including lighting and enjoying (floating, fixed, held, and flying) lanterns, appreciating the bright full moon, setting off fireworks, guessing riddles written on lanterns, eating tangyuan, lion dances, dragon dances, and walking on stilts.
The most important and prevalent customs are enjoying lanterns, guessing lantern riddles, eating tangyuan, and lion dances.
Lighting and Watching Lanterns
Lighting and appreciating lanterns is the main activity of the festival. When the festival comes, lanterns of various shapes and sizes (traditional globes, fish, dragons, goats! — in 2015, up to stories high!) are seen everywhere including households, shopping malls, parks, and streets, attracting numerous viewers. Children may hold small lanterns while walking the streets.
The lanterns’ artwork vividly demonstrates traditional Chinese images, such as fruits, flowers, birds, animals, people, and buildings.
In the Taiwanese dialect, the Chinese word for lantern (灯 dēng) is pronounced similarly to (丁 dīng), which means ‘a new-born baby boy’. Therefore lighting lanterns means illuminating the future and giving birth.
Lighting lanterns is a way for people to pray that they will have smooth futures and express their best wishes for their families. Women who want to be pregnant would walk under a hanging lantern praying for a child.
Read more about Chinese lanterns.
Guessing Lantern Riddles
Guessing (solving) lantern riddles, starting in the Song Dynasty (960–1279), is one of the most important and popular activities of the Lantern Festival. Lantern owners write riddles on paper notes and pasted them upon the colorful lanterns. People crowd round to guess the riddles.
If someone thinks they have the right answer, they can pull the riddle off and go to the lantern owner to check their answer. If the answer is right, there is usually a small gift as a prize.
As riddle guessing is interesting and informative, it has become popular among all social strata.
The lion dance is one of the most outstanding traditional folk dances in China. It can be dated back to the Three Kingdoms Period (220–280).
Ancient people regarded the lion as a symbol of bravery and strength, and thought that it could drive away evil and protect people and their livestock. Therefore, lion dances are performed at important events, especially the Lantern Festival, to ward off evil and pray for good fortune and safety.
The lion dance requires two highly-trained performers in a lion suit. One acts as the head and forelegs, and the other the back and rear legs. Under the guidance of a choreographer, the “lion” dances to the beat of a drum, gong, and cymbals. Sometimes they jump, roll, and do difficult acts such as walking on stilts.
In one lion dance, the “lion” moves from place to place looking for some green vegetables, in which red envelopes with money inside are hidden. The acting is very amusing and spectators enjoy it very much.
Nowadays, the lion dance has spread to many other countries with overseas Chinese, and it is quite popular in countries like Malaysia and Singapore. In many Chinese communities of Europe and America, Chinese people use lion dances or dragon dances to celebrate every Spring Festival and other important events.
Read more on Chinese New Year Lion Dances.
Eating Tangyuan (Yuanxiao)
Eating tangyuan is an important custom of the Lantern Festival. Tangyuan (汤圆 tāngyuán /tung-ywen/ ‘soup round’) are also called yuanxiao when eaten for the Lantern Festival, after the festival.
These ball-shaped dumplings made of glutinous rice flour, with different fillings are stuffed inside, usually sweet, such as white sugar, brown sugar, sesame seeds, peanuts, walnuts, rose petals, bean paste, and jujube paste, or any combination of two or three ingredients. Yuanxiao can be boiled, fried, or steamed, and are customarily served in fermented rice soup, called tianjiu (甜酒 tián jiǔ /tyen-jyoh/ ‘sweet liquor’).
As tangyuan is pronounced similarly to tuanyuan (团圆 /twan-ywen/ ‘group round’), which means the whole family gathering together happily, Chinese people believe that the round shape of the balls and their bowls symbolize wholeness and togetherness. Therefore, eating tangyuan on the Lantern Festival is a way for Chinese people to express their best wishes for their family and their future lives.
It is believed that the custom of eating tangyuan originated during the Song Dynasty, and became popular during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) periods.
See more on Chinese Desserts.
Where Is Best to See Lanterns in China?
During the Lantern Festival many lantern fairs are held in China, offering tourists the chances to experience Lantern Festival celebrations in public places. Here we recommend four top places for you to appreciate spectacular and colorful lanterns and performances.
- Qinhuai International Lantern Festival (the biggest in China!) is from January 28 to February 14, 2017, at Confucius Temple, Qinhuai Scenic Zone, Nanjing.
- Beijing Yanqing Lantern Festival Flower Exhibition is from the middle of January to the end of February, 2017, in Yanqing County, Beijing.
- Xiamen Lantern Festival is estimated from January 30 to February 14, 2017, at Yuanboyuan Garden, Xiamen City.
- Shanghai Datuan Peach Garden Lantern Festival is from February to March, 2017, at Datuan Peach Garden, 888 Caichuan, Datuan Town, Pudong New District, Shanghai (adults: 40 yuan, students and children under 1.3m: 20 yuan, over 60s: 32 yuan).
The Tall Ship Lynx, a modern interpretation of an 1812 American privateer, is scheduled to sail into St. Pete on Wednesday morning where it has found a permanent winter home.
The 110-foot ship is expected to come under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge with full sails sometime around 10 a.m. It will then head into the Vinoy Basin/North Yacht Basin, do a four-gun salute and make her way to Harborage Marina where she will berth until the seasonal dock is finalized right next to the ferry. They plan is to begin opening the boat up to the public for tours, sailing trips, and corporate events this weekend.
The idea of offering the Lynx a permanent berth first came up during then-Mayor Bill Foster’s administration. But the idea never seemed to gel until recently, said Greg Holden, chair of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. More recently, with the support of Council member Ed Montanari, Mayor Rick Kriseman, local businesses and others, the dream looks as if it might become reality.
“This is one of those five-year, overnight successes,” Holden said.
It’s an “amazing” opportunity for the city, he said. Having a tall ship in port is a draw for businesses and tourists. It’s also an attraction to help more people get out onto the water and to learn a bit of history.
The Lynx, he said, would harken back to the days of the Bounty, which was a reconstruction of the 1787 Royal Navy sailing ship HMS Bounty. The Bounty summered in New England and wintered in St. Pete, operating out of the Pier.
“There’s been an overwhelming amount of support” for having the Lynx use St. Petersburg as a permanent winter home, said Don Peacock, executive director of the Lynx Education Foundation. “We’re looking at this as a long-term program.”
The Lynx was built as a hands-on educational tool to teach American history. When she was in St. Petersburg last winter, Peacock said the crew worked with recreational centers in south St. Petersburg and with Admiral Farragut Academy. Kids from both sailed on the ship for a day while they learned how to sail her the way she was sailed in 1812 when the original Lynx went to sea.
“It’s all done by hand,” Peacock said.
Peacock said the Lynx would like to expand its outreach to more schools and recreational centers this year.
The Lynx and its educational programs are run by a non-partisan, nonprofit organization. The funding comes from donations and from the fees that corporations and members of the public pay to go on sails or to rent the Lynx for events.
The Lynx is an interpretation of an 1812 vessel of the same name that was one of the first privateers to take to the seas after the start of the War of 1812. A privateer was used to prey on British merchant vessels. Although the Lynx was designed like a privateer, she was outfitted for trade so she could help keep supply lines open for the Americans during the war. She was captured about a year into the war and saw service as a Royal Navy vessel called the Mosquidobit. In the late 1990s, the modern Lynx was built to the plans of the original.
http://tallshiplynx.com/history/ and Anne Lindberg at http://saintpetersblog.com/tall-ship-lynx-dock-st-pete-permanently/
Yesterday, President Obama and the first family arrived in Cuba. It’s the first time in 88 years that a U.S. President has visited Cuba and that president was Calvin Coolidge in 1928! It took President Coolidge 3 days by battleship to get to Havana but only took President Obama 3 hours to arrive on Air Force One. Upon arrival the First Lady, her daughters & her mother were given beautiful bunches of flowers.
His first Tweet was, “President Obama
@POTUS 19 hours ago
¿Que bolá Cuba? Just touched down here, looking forward to meeting and hearing directly from the Cuban people.” ¿Que bolá Cuba? means “What’s up, Cuba?
I visited Cuba this last summer with dear Cuban friends for 2 weeks and found all of the people I met to be so friendly, happy, caring & giving. I’m sure that Obama & his family will find the same. And I am sure that their visit will be quite different from mine, even though some of the same sites will be seen.
Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
This morning there was an official welcoming reception by President Raúl Castro at the Museo de la Revolucion (the former palace of Fulgenico Batista), where the military band played The Star Spangled Banner. Before he met with President Castro, Obama laid a wreath at the memorial to José Martí, a journalist and poet whose ideals are loved in both Miami and Havana. There are José Martí statues, banners & plaques everywhere in Cuba. Several times a week there were documentaries about him on the Cuban television.
After some sightseeing & various meetings including with American & Cuban business leaders, the President & family will return to the Museo de la Revolucion for a formal dinner. Tomorrow President Obama will be giving a speech on live Cuban television and attending a baseball game between the Cuba National Team and the TAMPA BAY RAYS from St Petersburg, Florida!! I wonder if Raymond, the official mascot for the Rays will be there. ¿Que bolá Raymond? #RaysinCuba
No matter what your political views are or where you stand on the Cuban-American relationship, this is an historical event.
Wow, such a nice article on St Petersburg and the many great art & history museums located here! Thank you.
There is so much to see in St. Petersburg, Florida, an absolutely charming city both in scale and streetscape which has emerged as a cultural center, but with a little planning, 36 hours is just enough to take in the highlights. My first afternoon, I explored the Dali Museum (see 2/12/16), a singular attraction which did much to put St. Pete on the map and trigger an entire renaissance of the city’s waterside downtown, lingering until the museum shut down, and then strolled down Central Avenue to get a taste of the emerging arts districts as night fell.
I occupied the evening at the Sundial, an entertainment center chock-a-block full of lovely restaurants and a movie complex, discovering Locale Market (an even more upscale Whole Foods, if you can believe it), which also has an absolutely delightful restaurant, Farm Table Kitchen.
After a lovely continental breakfast at The Cordova Inn, checking out and stowing my baggage with the hotel, I set out to complete my list of must-see attractions in St. Petersburg, before it is time to leave the city.
Just a short stroll away from the inn is The Museum of Fine Arts, which since my last visit to St. Pete has also been expanded with a whole new wing and atrium. The museum offers an astonishing variety of art works, artists that span eras and genres from antiquity to modern, with each one an absolutely superb example.
In addition to happily coming upon works by some of the most renowned artists who ever painted -Camille Corot, Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet, Renoir, Wyeth, Childe Hassam (“Home Sweet Home Cottage,” painted in East Hampton, LI, 1916, where he visited) – I discover works by scores of artists I have never heard of before but am completely enthralled. I am thrilled to discover Richard Hall (French, became Finnish), represented by “Gathering at Church Entrance,” (1884); Jacques Emile Blanche (French) with his beautiful impressionist work, “Contemplation,” 1883); Georges Daniel De Manfreu, represented by a superb “Portrait of Gauguin” hung next to a Gauguin painting; Victor Dubreuel (“Barrels of $,” 1898, who made a specialty of painting money because he didn’t have any, that made me smile because of how relevant his theme was to today).
The museum has the feel more of a mansion home than an institution, and there are smaller galleries off main galleries – like A Decorative Arts Gallery featuring stunning works by Tiffany, Steuben – where you can just get totally lost in the art; a gallery featuring a modern installation work, “I Remember Birmingham” (1997) by John Scott (1940-2007); a gallery of pre-Colombian art, another of ancient Indian – you feel you are spanning the millennia and miles of civilization in a few steps.
The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida was founded by Margaret Acheson Stuart (1896-1980) and opened in 1965.
A special exhibit, “50 for 50” honors the museum’s 50th anniversary since its opening in 1965, with an ambitious goal to see 50 new works for its ever-evolving collection. The collected items show an amazingly eclectic range of interest and appreciation for artistic process – technique, concept with respect. For example, one of the items are giant photographs from space. It is one of the reasons why the Museum of Fine Arts is “Tampa Bay area’s most comprehensive art collection with major works from antiquity to present day.
The original wing of the museum, designed by architect John Volk, has the feeling of a mansion rather than an institution. In March 2008, reflecting the museum’s growth, it opened a two-story modern addition that houses the special exhibition galleries, the Interactive Education Gallery, Library. There’s also a pleasant cafe and sculpture garden.
Allocate at least two hours to appreciate what is here.
Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, 727-896-2667, http://www.fine-arts.org/.
St. Petersburg Museum of History
The St. Petersburg Museum of History is located around the corner from the Fine Arts Museum, at the entrance to the Pier (now undergoing reconstruction, scheduled to reopen in 2018). This turns out to be a jewel – quite literally since the special exhibit on view is Shipwreck, a fascinating insight into shipwrecks and the modern technology used to discover them and their treasure.
The exhibit spans an amazing span of distinct eras: 1622 shipwreck of the Tortugas, carrying 17,000 objects including gold bars and silver coins; the SS Republic, a passenger ship en route to New Orleans with sorely needed gold and silver to reinvest in the war-torn South, which sunk October1865 in a storm; a 1941 shipwreck of the SS Gairsoppa, a British cargo ship carrying 99 tons of silver, sunk by a U-boat, Artifacts (including gold, silver, rare coins), that have been salvaged, as well as ordinary objects – glass, china- that are mystifying how they survive. (The exhibit ships out June 1).
Another surprisingly fascinating exhibit (even for people who are not huge baseball fans) is “Schrader’s Little Cooperstown” – billed as the “world’s largest collection” of autographed baseballs (4,854) that tell not just the history of “America’s favorite pastime” and baseball’s connection to St. Petersburg (spring training for 100 years, hosting 12 teams), but America’s cultural history, as well. Indeed, a whole showcase devoted to celebrity-signed balls (Olympian Bruce Jenner is one that caught my eye).
A whole wall is presented as a timeline of baseball against a timeline of significant historical events, where there is a 1930s baseball signed by both Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. The timeline is fascinating. (Who knew that Moses Fleetman Walker was the first African American player in the Major Leagues, in 1884?)
Of course, there are the baseballs signed by all the legends: Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Shoeless Joe Jackson as well as leagues such as the Women’s Professional Baseball League and the Negro Leagues, It is fun to come upon them, but the display is actually very organized. Schrader’s Little Cooperstown is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest private collection of autographed baseballs in the world. This semi-permanent exhibit is on view for the next 18 years.
There are real surprises, here, as well. I meet St. Petersburg’s mummy (“Our Lady of the Nile” – an actual, 3000-year old Egyptian mummy which is in an open casket so you can see it in extraordinary detail. (The mummy was x-rayed in 1971 and found to be a 26 year old female). It is part of an exhibit “Life, Death & The Afterlife,” which features a 2600-year old coffin and a replica of King Tut’s Tomb, and a silent film with an Egyptian archeological theme providing an odd musical background. But the story of how this mummy came to be St. Petersburg’s is incredible – it came on a circus boat that needed repairs. When the ship’s captain couldn’t come up with the money to pay the fees, he was forced to give up the cargo; eventually, in 1924, the dockmaster gave the mummy to the city. Something out of Ripley’s Believe it Or Not.
There is also an extremely well done display that tells St. Petersburg’s history, especially its emergence as a tourist destination that coincided with the nation’s economic prosperity and improvements in transportation and infrastructure (and it doesn’t hide its issues with racism).
To highlight that St. Petersburg was the home of the first scheduled commercial flight (between St. Petersburg and Tampa), there is a full-size working replica of the Benoist Airboat, which propelled Tony Jannus into commercial aviation history. suspended from the ceiling taking up the largest room.
Pinellas County’s oldest museum was founded in 1921 as the St. Petersburg Memorial Historical Society. Through the determination and effort of Mary Wheeler Eaton and others, the Society began collecting artifacts, natural history specimens, archival documents, photographs, papers, and “boxes of unknown treasures that were just dropped on our doorstep during the night.”
Allocate an hour or two. St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 Second Ave. N.E. St. Petersburg, FL 33701, 727) 894-1052, spmoh.com.
There is so much more art to explore in St. Petersburg, you can easily occupy all your time immersed in art: Morean Arts Center features these sites: Chilhuly Collection, a permanent collection of artist Dale Chihuly’s glass sculpture set in a 10,000 sq./ ft museum building designed by architect Alberto Alfonso, featuring such important installations as the Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier, the Float Boat and the Sunset Persian Wall. A separate exhibition space features glass artists from around the world in rotating exhibits. It is located a short walk away from the Fine Arts Museum. (400 Beach Drive NE, 727-896-4527); Morean Glass Studio & Hotshop (719 Central Avenue, 727-827-4527); Morean Arts Center (719 Central Ave, 727-822-7872) and Morean Center for Clay (420 22 St S, 727-821-7162), MoreanArtsCenter.org.
The Warehouse Arts District, once the industrial area, has been transformed into an arts destination, and stretches from 1st Avenue North to 10th Avenue South, and from 16th Street to 31 Street (727-826-7211, whereartismade.com). Follow the Art Map, artsstpete.org. Enjoy the St. Petersburg Art Walk the second Saturday, encompassing the Waterfront, Central Arts, EDGE, Grand Central and Warehouse Arts District, when galleries, warehouses and art studios are open late.
It is delightful to walk or hop the quaint trolley-style bus (the Downtown Looper fare is just 50c, (there are free fare zones, and there’s a free Baseball Shuttle for select games) as well. The trolley actually provides a wonderful sightseeing experience.
A fuller exploration of the arts districts will have to wait for a return visit to St. Pete. Because of my time limitations before I must leave St. Pete, I set a bee-line for the Florida Holocaust Museum (see next).
See: Florida Holocaust Museum
Saturday, February 20, 2016 10:00am Black History Festival
Join the African American Heritage celebration! The second annual event hosted at the Midtown Walmart Neighborhood Market will feature live entertainment, food samples, children’s activities, giveaways and free health screenings from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
1794 22nd St. South
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
February 20-21, 2016, St. Petersburg, FL
3rd Annual St. Petersburg Spring Fine Art Festival.
Sponsored by the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, City of St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, the 3rd Annual St. Petersburg Spring Fine Art Festival brings original artwork by more than 100 juried artisans from 25 states and around the world. Many local and regional artisans are showing their artwork. The various works include painting, photography, sculpture, metalwork, digital art, jewelry, glass, ceramics, woodworking, mixed-media, fiber art, metalwork.
Hours of the St. Petersburg Fine Art Festival are Saturday 10-5, Sunday 11-5. Admission and parking are free.
From the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
Do American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving?
This essay by Dennis Zotigh was widely commented on when he wrote it for Thanksgiving 2011. Each year, we add readers’ thoughts on the question, Do Indians celebrate Thanksgiving?
In thinking about my earliest memories of elementary school, I remember being asked to bring a brown paper sack to class so that it could be decorated and worn as part of the Indian costume used to celebrate Thanksgiving. I was also instructed to make a less-than-authentic headband with Indian designs and feathers to complete this outfit. Looking back, I now know this was wrong.
The Thanksgiving Indian costume that all the other children and I made in my elementary classroom trivialized and degraded the descendants of the proud Wampanoags, whose ancestors attended the first Thanksgiving popularized in American culture. The costumes we wore bore no resemblance to Wampanoag clothing of that time period. Among the Wampanoag, and other American Indians, the wearing of feathers has significance. The feathers we wore were simply mockery, an educator’s interpretation of what an American Indian is supposed to look like.
The Thanksgiving myth has done so much damage and harm to the cultural self-esteem of generations of Indian people, including myself, by perpetuating negative and harmful images to both young Indian and non-Indian minds. There are so many things wrong with the happy celebration that takes place in elementary schools and its association to American Indian culture; compromised integrity, stereotyping, and cultural misappropriation are three examples.
When children are young, they are often exposed to antiquated images of American Indians through cartoons, books, and movies. But Thanksgiving re-enactments may be their most active personal encounter with Indian America, however poorly imagined, and many American children associate Thanksgiving actions and images with Indian culture for the rest of their lives. These cultural misunderstandings and stereotypical images perpetuate historical inaccuracy.
Tolerance of mockery by teachers is a great concern to Native parents. Much harm has been done to generations of Indian people by perpetuating negative and harmful images in young minds. Presenting Thanksgiving to children as primarily a happy time trivializes our shared history and teaches a half-truth. And while I agree that elementary-school children who celebrate the first Thanksgiving in their classrooms are too young to hear the truth, educators need to share Thanksgiving facts in all American schools sometime before high school graduation.
Let’s begin with Squanto (aka Tisquantum), a Patuxet, one of more than 50 tribes who formed the Wampanoag Confederacy. Around 1614, when he was perhaps 30, Squanto was kidnapped along with others of his people and taken across the Atlantic Ocean to Malaga, Spain, where they were sold into slavery. Monks in Spain bought Squanto, shared their faith with him, and made it possible for him to find his way to England in 1615. In England he worked for shipbuilder John Slany and became proficient in English. In 1619 Squanto returned to his homeland by joining an exploring expedition along the New England coast. When he arrived at the village where he has been raised, all his family and the rest of his tribe had been exterminated by a devastating plague.
What about the Pilgrims? Separatists who fled from England to Holland seeking to escape religious persecution by English authorities, and who later booked passage to North America, are now called “Pilgrims,” though Americans did not widely use the term until the 1870s. In November, 1620, the Mayflower dropped anchor in present-day Provincetown Harbor. After exploring the coast for a few weeks, the Pilgrims landed and began building a permanent settlement on the ruins of Squanto’s Patuxet village, now renamed New Plymouth. Within the first year, half of the 102 Pilgrims who set out from Europe on the Mayflower had perished. In desperation the Pilgrims initially survived by eating corn from abandoned fields, raiding villages for stored food and seed, and robbing graves at Corn Hill.
Squanto was introduced to the Pilgrims in the spring of 1621, became friends with them, and taught them how to hunt and fish in order to survive in New England. He taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn by using fish as fertilizer and how to plant gourds around the corn so that the vines could climb the cornstalks. Due to his knowledge of English, the Pilgrims made Squanto an interpreter and emissary between the English and Wampanoag Confederacy.
What really happened at the first Thanksgiving in 1621? The Pilgrims did not introduce the concept of thanksgiving; the New England tribes already had autumn harvest feasts of thanksgiving. To the original people of this continent, each day is a day of thanksgiving to the Creator. In the fall of 1621, William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth Colony, decided to have a Plymouth harvest feast of thanksgiving and invited Massasoit, the Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag Federation, to join the Pilgrims. Massasoit came with approximately 90 warriors and brought food to add to the feast, including venison, lobster, fish, wild fowl, clams, oysters, eel, corn, squash and maple syrup. Massasoit and the ninety warriors stayed in Plymouth for three days. These original Thanksgiving foods are far different from the meals prepared in modern Thanksgiving celebrations.
Squanto died in 1622, but Massasoit outlived the era of relative peace in colonial New England. On May 26, 1637, near the present-day Mystic River in Connecticut, while their warriors were away, an estimated 400 to 700 Pequot women, children, and old men were massacred and burned by combined forces of the Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, and Saybrook (Connecticut) colonies and Narragansett and Mohegan allies. Colonial authorities found justification to kill most of the Pequot men and enslave the captured women and their children. Pequot slaves were sent to Bermuda and the West Indies. In 1975 the official number of Pequot people living in Connecticut was 21. Similar declines in Native population took place throughout New England as an estimated three hundred thousand Indians died by violence, and even more were displaced, in New England over the next few decades.
Looking at this history raises a question: Why should Native peoples celebrate Thanksgiving? Many Natives particularly in the New England area remember this attempted genocide as a factual part of their history and are reminded each year during the modern Thanksgiving. The United American Indians of New England meet each year at Plymouth Rock on Cole’s Hill for a Day of Mourning. They gather at the feet of a statue of Grand Sachem Massasoit of the Wampanoag to remember and reflect in the hope that America will never forget.
I turn to the Internet to find out what Native people think of Thanksgiving. A few of the responses I received this year:
From Hydro, Oklahoma: Could we just start over and go forward? We can’t change the past, but we can work for peace and unity in the future. History needs to be taught correctly in our schools—that is what needs to happen. My daughter had to write a paper about Big Tree, Satank, and Satanta. She interviewed Satanta’s great-grandson, who was in his 90s, and told the story as he told it to her, including their transport from Fort Sill and how the feather was turned into a knife as they passed the giant tree, causing the soldiers to shoot and kill Satank. She got an AAA+ from her teacher.
Ecuador via Bozeman, Montana: It’s important to share the whole, true story of the first Thanksgiving. Many of us were told a fairytale lie that led us to believe the same old story: Colonization was good for everyone and colonization was relatively peaceful (the violence was necessary, the ends justify the means). Now, a lot of us are learning more, and that comes from educating ourselves with the help from those who do know. I will say this, the generic idea of thanksgiving, or taking the time to be with family and friends and give thanks for all the blessings in our lives, the big and small, is a great practice and should happen more often. I wonder how we can turn a negative into a positive? Can we have an honest Thanksgiving? Can we move forward and, if so, where do we begin?
Santa Fe, New Mexico: My family and I celebrate Thanksgiving, not so much in the way that the “Pilgrims” may have done with the Indians. We give pause, and acknowledge all of the blessings that we received in the past year. We think of family and friends; of the homeless; of those away from family in hospitals, elders in nursing homes, those incarcerated, the soldier men and women overseas, around the world, standing watch and guarding our freedom. We think of those in mourning, whose family have gone ahead of them. We also think of those in school, no matter what age. And, finally, we pray for traveling mercies said for folks traveling home. We are thankful each day for Creator’s gifts but on Thanksgiving, it seems we focus and are concentrated in our thoughts about these blessings.
Fairfax, Oklahoma: Our folks and ancestors left a good road to follow and prayed for gifts or successes for us that they may not have achieved. We have opportunities even more than them in these days and days to come. Long time ago we sat down in thanksgiving and had a great day. That’s what Thanksgiving is to me, to enjoy and continue to achieve for yourself and them. They are smiling when we achieve. Aho.
Sevierville, Tennessee: Yes, I celebrate Thanksgiving. I have a thankful heart and feel blessed, so I give thanks.
Lawton, Oklahoma, with gentle humor: Do we have to feed the Pilgrims? Again?
And here are a few people’s thoughts in 2013:
Aylett, Virginia: It is good to celebrate the concept of gratitude and thankfulness. When the holiday story is based on a lie that covers up the national moral atrocity of genocide, the statement about the people who celebrate is not good. Shining light on the truth will always bring about healing.
Montville, Connecticut: Thanksgiving was celebrated for murder and slavery rather than friendship and harvest.
Greenbelt, Maryland: I don’t necessarily look at the holiday as pilgrims-meet-Indians-and-chow-down. I celebrate it as the time the cycle of alcoholism was broken in our family, and we have a feast to celebrate that.
Norman, Oklahoma: It’s pretty much a family reunion for me, and there is eating, visiting, being thankful, and having a good time. Because of that, there is no reason to worry about the history. Similar to the idea that our dances fall on the 4th of July and instead of celebrating independence, it is more like a homecoming to our Kiowa people.
California: When I went to school there was two Indians in our class me and a hopi girl neither one of us had to endure any of this because her mother and my mother both raised hell with the principal no fake headbands or feathers for us.
Pala, California: When my kids were in pre-school is when I decided I needed to represent our people at this time of year more than any other. I would be damned if my kids were gonna wear paper bags like the other students. I wasn’t having that. I learned to get the story across at their age level and show them the beauty and generosity of our people. I remember growing up and my mom getn upset with me because on Thanksgiving day I would come to the dinner table in my PJs and hair unbrushed, knowing the day was not a celebration. But now that I’m a mother of 3 and a grandmother of 1, I understand as Native people we give thanks to the Creator every day. On Thanksgiving Day I’m just grateful our people are still here and still stand strong.
Salt Lake City, Utah: Thanksgiving, to me, is to be grateful for all the good blessings that came my way. Good health. Gift of family. Regardless of history, there are still many Natives in the land, and that shows how resilient we are. To honor those who went before us, let us share our culture and stories, teach the youth to learn from the past and to make our lives so our ancestors are proud of us. Example is a great educator.
Alberta, Canada: It is an opportunity for those who do take note . . . . There will be those who roll their eyes, and others who may gain deeper appreciation, to honor (maybe even emulate) a more giving nature . . . , that of their Creator.
Crow Agency, Montana: My Dad used to say, “We give thanks everyday, so if they want to give us a holiday to give thanks, I’ll take it.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t include where people were writing from in the essay when it first appeared in 2011:
I was infuriated when my daughter’s school had a mock feast complete with paper mache headdresses and Pilgrim hats!
When they did that to my kids in elementary, I TORE those items up and signed my kids out of school for that day.
For Thanksgiving I was the Indian. Umm Go figure . . . .
Someone took a picture of me in front of the class, and to this day . . . it bothers me. Don’t get the whole making a fest in school.
Tonight I have to lead a children’s Bible class, and they want me to theme it around Thanksgiving. I will, but it’s not going to be about the happy pilgrims and all that stuff. Thankfulness to God is one thing, but elevating pilgrims to hero status is out of the question.
When my daughter Victoria was in grade school she had a teacher give them the assignment to write a report on Thanksgiving dinner, and Victoria wrote hers as to why our family doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Victoria got an F on the paper, and I threatened to go to the school board if the principal didn’t get it changed. Victoria got an A, and the class got a lesson on Native American heritage.
Ignorance and not near enough education in the school systems! It is very sad that a majority of what is taught is very superficial and the dark aspects of our history are neatly tucked away.Very sad!
Considered a day of mourning in our house.
For skins [American Indians], Thanksgiving should be The Last Supper.
The United American Indians of New England meet each year at Plymouth Rock on Cole’s Hill for a Day of Mourning. They gather at the feet of a statue of Grand Sachem Massasoit of the Wampanoag to remember and reflect in the hope that America will never forget.
Do I celebrate Thanksgiving? No, I don’t celebrate. But I do take advantage of the holiday and get together with family and friends to share a large meal without once thinking of the Thanksgiving in 1621. I think it is the same in many Native households. It is ironic that Thanksgiving takes place during American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month. An even greater irony is that more Americans today identify the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday than as National American Indian Heritage Day.
—Dennis W. Zotigh
Dennis W. Zotigh (Kiowa/San Juan Pueblo/Santee Dakota Indian) is a member of the Kiowa Gourd Clan and San Juan Pueblo Winter Clan and a descendeant of Sitting Bear and No Retreat, both principal war chiefs of the Kiowas. Dennis works as a writer and cultural specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
The original version of this essay was published on November 23, 2011.
The celebration of this great day includes parades, parties, fireworks, concerts, wreath placing at the cemeteries, and the oldest and largest military parade in Europe. The military parade, began in 1880, is held on the morning of 14 July, and since 1918 it has traveled down the length of the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Bastille day is celebrated in many countries including Belgium, South Africa, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the United Kingdom and the USA. Here in St Petersburg, Florida, the French American Business Council of West Tampa celebrated Bastille Day at Cassis, an American Brasserie on Beach Drive. A special Menu was prepared by French Chef Jeremy Duclut and served with glasses of Marquis de la Tour from Loire Valley. Fiona Frensche performed favorite songs by Edith Piaf, Juliette Greco, Josephine Baker, Jacques Brel and more. Her cabaret style renditions of the French classics bring back memories of Montmartre in the 1920’s with Moulin Rouge as the setting. Ah, mais oui.
Sorry that this was late getting out but my computer decided it needed a day off to celebrate as well. Finally got it up & running again. Better late than never?
Today is Canada Day, the National Day of Canada, which celebrates the July 1st, 1867 anniversary of the joining of the 3 colonies into one single country which formed Canada. Originally, it was called the British North America Act but now it is called the Constitution Act of 1867.
There will be the usual celebrations for Canada Day-parades, carnivals, festivals, barbecues, air and maritime shows, fireworks, and free musical concerts throughout the country. Canada Day is also celebrated in front of the Canada House in Trafalgar Square in London, England, Hong Kong, Afghanistan, Mexico, Shanghai, Mumbai, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Detroit, New York and many other cities around the world.
So wave that beautiful Maple Leaf flag proudly!
For a list of Canada Day 2014: July 1 celebrations across the country, please see http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/canada-day-2014-july-1-celebrations-across-the-country-1.2692931