Posts tagged ‘Culture’

November 26, 2015

Le Grande Thanksgiving —

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

By Art Buchwald

Le Grande Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingOne of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant .
Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims ( Pelerins ) who fled from l’Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World ( le Nouveau Monde ) where they could shoot Indians ( les Peaux-Rouges ) and eat turkey ( dinde ) to their hearts’ content.


They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Americaine ) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai ) in 1620. But while the Pelerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pelerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pelerins was when they taught them to grow corn ( mais ). The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pelerins.

In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pelerins’ crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more mais was raised by the Pelerins than Pelerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges. Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration. It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilometres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant :

“Go to the damsel Priscilla ( allez tres vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth ( la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action ( un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe ), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning.
“I am a maker of war ( je suis un fabricant de la guerre ) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar ( vous, qui tes pain comme un tudiant ), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden.”

Although Jean was fit to be tied ( convenable tre emballe ), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow ( rendue muette par l’tonnement et las tristesse ).
At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: “If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?” ( Ou est-il, le vieux Kilometres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas aupres de moi pour tenter sa chance ?)

Jean said that Kilometres Deboutish was very busy and didn’t have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilometres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, Jean?” ( Chacun a son gout. )

And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes and, for the only time during the year, eat better than the French do.

No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fête and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilometres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.

wishes my blog readers a blessed & joyeux Thanksgiving!

February 21, 2012

Pączki Day – A Fat Tuesday Remembrance — #Polish, #Culture

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Pączki Day – In the Detroit area suburbs, we always waited for Fat Tuesday to come around. Because, on the last day of Mardis Gras (Fat Tuesday) we would queue up in long lines — typically at an Oaza Bakery to buy our Pączki Donuts.

Now it has been over two decades since then and we do not have any Oaza Bakeries out here on the East Coast and there are few and far between Polish bakeries/delis of any kind around and none near where I live. I used to buy a few dozen Pączki Donuts and bring them into work to introduce the non-Poles to some Polish culture. Always a hit!


Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday,  is the beginning of the austere Lenten season. The forty day season of preparation celebrating the arrival of God’s Good News & Holy Spirit  into our midst that culminates in Easter. Alleluia !


I miss the Pączki Donuts. Fastnachts are just not the same. One year, I thought I would make Pączki Donuts for the family, so I gathered an authentic,  “Old Busia”, recipe and bought a fryer and made my dough for the Pączki.   I picked out my favorite fruit fillings and fried my little masterpieces and sprinkled the warm donuts with powdered sugar.  These were passable  substitutes for the beloved Polish culture that I had left behind in MI. For a few years I carried proudly my scar of an oil burn caused by one of my over zealous little Pączki helpers. The scar has long since disappeared, but the memory remains.


Have A Blessedly Happy Lenten Season Everyone!


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