Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Le Jour de Merci Donnant

Glossy Ibis at Hurricane Lake

Sorry friends, this is the closest I could get to a turkey today ;-)

Earlier this year, our country lost a great humorist and writer, Art Buchwald. Remember his classic piece Le Grande Thanksgiving in which he explained the holiday to the French? For those who don't, I'm re-printing it below.

Chacun à son goût, or why we eat turkey.
by Art Buchwald (originally published in 1952 and reprinted each November since).

One 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 (Pèlerins) 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 heart's content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (a famous voiture Américaine) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai) in 1620. But while the Pèlerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pèlerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pèlerins was when they taught them to grow corn (maïs). The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pèlerins.
In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pèlerins' crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more maïs was raised by the Pèlerins than Pèlerins 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 Kilomètres 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 très 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 êtes pain comme un etudiant), 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 à être emballé), 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'étonnement et la 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?" (
Où est-il, le vieux Kilomètres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas auprès de moi pour tenter sa chance?)
Jean said that Kilomètres Deboutish was very busy and didn't have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilomètres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, Jean?" (Chacun à son goût.)

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 Kilomètres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.

Thanks Kilomètres, thanks Art and thanks to all of you who visit me here.


Nikon said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all of your loyal fans, too!

Me said...

No, that is not a turkey, but it is a beautiful bird just the same. We have White Ibis here, and occasionally I see a Scarlet Ibis. Really, very pretty birds. And thanks for the Buchwald visit!

Fabrizio - ikol22 said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you !!! I wish you to spend it with people you love.

Olivier said...

Je te souhaite un happy thanksgiving. j'aime bien comme traduction : "Jour de Merci Donnant"

I wish you a happy thanksgiving. I like to translate: "Jour de Merci Donnant"

Anonymous said...

Amazing that Art Buchwald is best remembered for le Jour de Merci Donnant.

Collective minds must come together at times and the results, in blogging at least, are staggering.

Jilly said...

Lovely lines on this bird and not a turkey - sure y'all will see enough of those tomorrow.

I'd not read this by Art Buchwald before. Very funny. I met him once in London - at the Savoy Hotel - one of those lifetimes ago...

Ackworth Born said...

I think I got a bit lost towards the end of that story but never find.

Even with my new camera - first photo here I don't think I'll produce photos like yours.

Gwen said...

lovely ibis image, Isabella. Happy Thanksgiving to you.:)

Peter said...

I know Art, but not this wonderful story! Thanks! ... which leads me to say Happy Thanksgving!

GMG said...

Finally I managed to get back here, and just in time for a fantastic post; great Art! Great pictures! And a great Thanksgiving to you!

JAM said...

I've never seen an ibis like this, all the one's I've seen are white. That's probably as close to a turkey as you would find around Naples.

I'd never read the Art Buchwald thing here, that's a hoot.

Moi said...

haha...guess my red-heads were the closest i got to turkeys in Florida!!!! and the piece by Art Buchwald is really a hoot, as john says.

we'll be venturing into your part of the world morrow :)

Have a happy thanksgiving :)

WebOJ said...

Well, the turkeys must be relieved you are not too close too. Ha! Ha!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sonia said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and to your family!

I know Art Buchwald but not that story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

ulysse said...

great picture and very funny story but i am not sure that thanksgiving is the only day when american people eat better than french I had the opportunity to travel throughout the USA and make grat diners everywhere ! and don't forget that Mc Donald is successfull in France !

Kate said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Isabella!

Jilly said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Isabella and yes Pecan Pie will do very nicely thankyou! thanks for the song on Menton...perfect!

alice said...

"Le jour de Merci Donnant"...what a strange expression...Happy Thanksgiving, Isabella.

Zsolt said...

Happy Thanksgiving Isabella!:)

Nikon said...

Thanks for your message! Happy thanksgiving to you & your's :)

Chris said...

A beautiful bird and lovely shot!Happy Thanksgiving!

richard said...

Brilliant. But that turkey ain't gonna feed too many hungry mouths - need a lotta stuffing