Building the World

November 23, 2021
by buildingtheworld
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THANKS Giving: Global traditions of gratitude

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States. Photograph by Derek Jensen (Tysto) 2004. Generously donated to public domain by the photographer. Image: wikimedia commons.

Giving thanks can take many forms including exchanges to strengthen friendships between nations. American presidents sit at the Resolute Desk, given by Britain to the United States in 1880 as a gesture of thanks for rescuing the HMS Resolute from an Arctic ice-jam, repairing and returning the vessel to the United Kingdom. Six years later, in 1886, France gifted the United States with the Statue of Liberty as an icon of freedom and democracy, and to honor Abraham Lincoln. The famous sculpture proposed by Éduard de Laboulaye (French political philosopher, abolitionist, and expert on the US Constitution) was commissioned to Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi with interior designed by Gustave Eiffel, of the Paris Tower fame.

Norway has given a tree to Trafalgar Square, London, annually since 1947, in thanks for the end of World War II. Photo by Anneke-B, “Trafalgar Square Tree,” 2008, the year the tradition switched to halogen bulbs for energy conservation and sustainability. Wikimedia CC2.0, with thanks to photographer Anneke-B.

World War II’s dangers formed alliances later celebrated by partners in thanks for solidarity, including annual gifts of  20,000 tulips bulbs from the Netherlands to Canada for sheltering Princess Juliana during the war, and Norway’s yearly gift of a holiday tree to grace Trafalgar Square in London in commemoration of World War II’s alliances, cooperation, resolution, and peace.

Most festivals of harvest and thanks feature traditional cuisine. Here is a vegetarian feast from Seoul, Korea. “Korea-Seoul-Insadong-Sanchon” by Julie Facine. Creative Commons license CC by SA 2.0, wikimedia. Included with thanks to photographer Julie Facine.

As Americans observe Thanksgiving, it’s a time to recognize traditions of gratitude around the world. Countries celebrating a holiday of thanks include: Barbados (Crop Over Festival), Brazil (Dia de Ação de Graças), Canada (Thanksgiving), China (Chung Ch’iu), Germany (Erntedankfest), Ghana (Homowo Festival), Grenada (Thanksgiving), Israel (Sukkot), Japan (Kinro Kansha no Hi), Liberia (Thanksgiving), Malaysia (Ka’amatan), Netherlands (Thanksgiving), Norfolk Island (Harvest Home Festival), South Korea (Chuseok), and Vietnam (Têt-Trung-Thu). Many world festivals of thanks honor the harvest, the family, and the power of alliance and cooperation.

Received at the White House on 23 November 1880, the Resolute Desk (seen here with John F. Kennedy, President, and son, John) is a Partners’ Desk. Photo by Stanley Tretick, October 1963. Public Domain image. Wikimedia.

Today, we observe an anniversary with a message. The Resolute Desk, that began this discussion, arrived at the White House on 23 November 1880. When the gift was opened, it was discovered to be a partners’ desk: crafted for two people, facing each other, to work together. The design is believed to promote cooperation. Should be there be an international holiday of thanks to honor cooperation and peace?

Deron, Bernadette. “This is how 15 other countries around the world celebrate thanksgiving.” 7 November 2021. All That’s Interesting.com. https://allthatsinteresting.com/thanksgiving-in-other-countries

“Gifts Given Between Countries.” Accessed 22 November 2021. https://visual.ly/community/Infographics/travel/gifts-given-between-countries-weird-and-wonderful

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Un

April 15, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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Suez Canal: A Vision of Cooperation

Suez Canal Bridge, from Wikimedia Commons, at wikimedia.org.

Opening a waterway for shipping transport from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean through a passage in the Red Sea, the Suez Canal was under one form of construction or another for 3,700 years. Winding 101 miles (163 kilometers) through desert, connecting lakes until reaching the Isthmus of Suez, the canal links Mediterranean Port Said with Suez on the Red Sea. Over 1.5 million people worked on the project, whose ceremonial opening on November 17, 1869, was celebrated by the commissioning of Verdi’s opera, Aida. It’s one of the world’s most important waterways; in just one month (May 2002), 1,135 vessels transited carrying total tonnage exceeding 27.6 million. Significantly, the firman of 1854, granting concession to Ferdinand de Lesseps by Pasha al-Said, mandates the canal be open on equal terms to ships of all nations: “tariffs of dues for passage shall always be equal for all nations, no particular advantage can ever be stipulated for the exclusive benefit of any one country.” Does the Suez Canal set a precedent for the cooperation of nations, especially through international and transnational infrastructure?

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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