George Washington: Father of Thanksgiving

Even if the first thanksgiving was celebrated by the pilgrims in 1621, it became a national holiday in 1789 when George Washington issued a proclamation on the Constitution. He named November 26 as an official holiday of “sincere and humble thanks”.

This holiday was first celebrated by the pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World. The colonist held a celebration of food and feasting that took three days. After that it was a common practice for The New England colonists to celebrate it by thanking God for blessings such as military victory. It was a day set aside for prayer and fasting.

The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899). Property of wikipedia.

The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899).

George Washington was the first president of United States, he was born on colonial virginia in 1732. His wealty family owned tobacco plantations and slaves, that he inherited. He desired to free them and abolish slavery. Washington was elected president  in the elections of both 1788-1789 and 1792. He create a strong, well-financed national government, suppressed rebellion, and won acceptance among Americans of all types.

When George Washington proclaimed this day as a national date until now, each of the states periodically designated a day of thanksgiving in honor of a military victory. Nowadays it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November and it has become a day of feasting, football and family.  Its aim is to give thanks to God for those military victories and for what they have in general. It is with Christmas and New Year part of the broader season. A great excuse for Americans to come together around the table and share his love for the nation.

Families and friends usually get together in this day for a special meal. The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and vegetables.  Some people have a four-day weekend so it is a popular time for visiting their relatives. Before the meal people usually find different activities to do. Some families play football games while other could play charades, tell stories, share photos around or just go to a walk as a family. Another important thing to do in thanksgiving is to help the less fortunate people on that day. People might make donations to the homeless. They give money or just cloths, food or any useful thing. There are also people that volunteer time before or during Thanksgiving to help at a homeless shelter.

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Property of getty images.

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Jorge “Mágico” González

Born in El Salvador, in March 1958, Jorge “Mágico” Gonzalez is a Salvadorian famous footballer. Magico Gonzalez began his career in the year 1975 playing for a Salvadorian football club called ANTEL. because of his talent, Mágico Gonzalez is one of the most important personalities of El Salvador. He does not have a day to commemorate his talent or his achievements, but we as Salvadorians recognize him for having show the name of his country with his talent playing football.

Football in all around the world can be considered as a culture. It is one of the greatest sports in the world followed by such an incredible amount of people. Mágico González shows what is, for him, the significance of playing football with passion.

Because of his success driving El Salvador´s national football team head to the 1982 World Cup in Spain, being one of the few times El Salvador could classify to a world cup. El Salvador´s team protagonist on that world cup was not very good, the team got terribly defeated by the Hungary team, humiliating it. But Mágico didn’t drop his head down and by showing his good performance on the team even though they lost, he got the attention of great Spanish football teams such as Atlético de Madrid and Cádiz. He also played with FC Barcelona in a tour in the USA.

Jorge “Magico” Gonzalez became a great symbolic figure for El Salvador thanks for its international success, despite for his internal life problems. He got his name on one of the larges football stadiums in El Salvador as a monument.

Magico gnzalez

THE FATHER OF SPAIN’S DEMOCRACY

During the more than three thousand years that Spain has, a lot of prominent characters have passed through its lands. This country has given birth to plenty of historians, politicians, writers, kings and philosophers that have made Spain the country that it is now, that is why choosing one of them is a really difficult task as each of them deserves a post for their own.

However one of the most important characters on Spain’s recent history is Adolfo Suarez, he was a key character on the Spanish transition, the process in which the country turned from a dictatorial country to a democratic one. Born in Cerberos (Avila) the 25th of September of 1932, he entered into the low school of Salamanca and on 1955 he already had his first job as a lawyer. Then, a couple of years later he got the doctorate in law by the Universidad Complutense of Madrid.

Franco (owned by forum por la memoria)

Franco (owned by forum por la memoria)

At that time Spain was under a dictatorial regime carried by the General Francisco Franco, but, when he died the 20th of November of 1975, the king of Spain Juan Carlos I took the power and asked Adolfo to be the president until a new constitution had been redacted and democratic elections had taken place.

Spanish Constitution (Owned by wikisource)

Spanish Constitution (Owned by wikisource)

His task was not easy; he had to convince all the political parties that were starting to proliferate -with very different ideas- to sign the constitution in order to create a democratic country.

Adolfo Suarez does not have a certain festivity to celebrate his achievements, but he indeed was one of the fathers of Spain´s actual constitution, so we can say that the 6 of December, the day in which we celebrate its proclamation, is also his day. Also, I considered important to dedicate this post to him as he passed out this year (the 23th of March) and he is one of them most important characters of Spain´s recent history.

TECÚN UMÁN

195px-El_Quiche_in_Guatemala.svg

The word “ Tecún Umán” comes from Quiché, wich is located in the northoccident part of Guatemala. They talk a language called k`iche`. Great warrior  and last mandatarium of the mayan quiches. During the conquer pf spain in Guatemala Tecún was defeated by Pedro de Alvarado in the valley of “El Pinal”.

NATIONAL HERO 6050134902_746d52d8da_b

It is considered the most representative of the K’iche ‘for his bravery and dignity because he fought and protected his land and his people. It was officially declared a national hero of Guatemala on March 22, 1960 and is commemorated on February 20, the anniversary of his death. Wearing a headdress adorned with feathers beautifully Quetzal. This is described by the conquistador Pedro de Alvarado in his chronicles of conquest and this was the basis for which he was awarded subsequently the name of Quetzaltenango city founded by the Spaniards near the site of the battle, as mentioned by the Conqueror in his letters.

The story about the battle of the Quiche prince against the Spanish invasion suffered a mystification, the legend of the hero quiche that after resisting it fiercely troops in Xelajú Alvarado Spanish conquistador  met face to face in battle himself with Pedro de Alvarado. Tecun Uman thrust his spear into the horse’s chest. Tecun, after getting killed with a sword steel  chieftain at heart. The legend tells that a Quetzal landed on his blood and there is red on the bird’s chest. The “myth” grew over 400 years of colonization and was hailed as a symbol of liberty for conspiracy to independence.

Tecun Uman is know the face of the spanish war against the mayans, fighting for territory and empire. It is so important that they named a town near Mexico with his name and different sculptures are located all arouend the country. Usually in the 20th of february in schools little kids do th penacho that he wore, made with the quetzal feather but made with fake feathers, and here is a show representing the battle.

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TERESA DE LA PARRA

Owned by: Fundación de Centros de Ciencia de Venezuela

Andrés Eloy Blanco      Owned by: Fundación de Centros de Ciencia de Venezuela

When writing about the culture of a country it is extremely difficult to pick one specific person to represent it. There are many people throughout the history of Venezuela that have impacted culture in a very deep way. There are musicians such as Gustavo Dudamel, Simon Diaz and Chelique Sarabia. There were artists who also affected culture such as Armando Reveron, Carlos Cruz Diez and Jesus Soto. In literature there was the great poet Andrés Eloy Blanco and many more! But I would like to focus, though, more specifically on one which I have been very fond of: Teresa de la Parra.

Picture owned by: venezuelatuya

Statue of Teresa de la Para in Venezuela.                                       Picture owned by: venezuelatuya

Teresa de la Parra was born in Paris but considered Venezuelan by nationality since her dad was from there. She moved to Venezuelan when she was young because of her fathers’ death. There she became a well-known and considered Venezuelan writer. She did not write a lot, only two books, but they changed Venezuelan literature. Her two books were Ifigenia and Memorias de mamá blanca.

I am very fond of this writer because my dad and I would read her books together, especially Ifigenia. Ifigenia was very relevant to Venezuelan culture because it consists of a girl who comes into Venezuela and learns the way it works. It talks about the people, the food, the men, the maids. It talked about everything having to do with the country. The great thing about it is that it also offered a point of view that came from the outside so Venezuelans could see themselves through the eyes of others. She was also able to reflect through the characters of her novel a lot of what was going on in the government at the time, which was the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gómez. 

Memorias de Mamá Blanca  Picture owned by: todocoleccion

Book: Memorias de Mamá Blanca
Picture owned by: todocoleccion

There is not a cultural event to celebrate Teresa de la Parra but there does not need to be one to realize the cultural impact she had on literature in Venezuelan. At the end of her life she went to Madrid and passed away there, but her body was exhumed and brought to Venezuela where she belonged. Now she is a very much-loved and admired Venezuelan writer who not only affected literature but culture.

Written by: Iraida Bethencourt Graterón