Each November, Americans
gather to celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving to commemorate the
celebratory dinner the early colonists shared with Native Americans in
1621. The Native Americans had helped the colonists survive their first
harsh winter in their new land and this feast was intended as an
expression of gratitude and to give thanks for a bountiful harvest.
Today, Americans use the
occasion to visit friends and family members and to give thanks for the
blessings of liberty. Turkey is the traditional main course.
Approximately 690 million pounds of turkey
are consumed in the United States each Thanksgiving, according to the
National Turkey Federation.
Baseball is considered the
“national pastime” of the United States. On the professional, amateur,
and youth levels, it is popular in North America, Central America, parts
of South America, parts of the Caribbean, and East Asia. The modern
version of the game developed in North America beginning in the
eighteenth century. The consensus of historians is that it evolved from
earlier bat-and-ball games, such as rounders, brought to the continent
by British and Irish immigrants. By the late nineteenth century,
baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United
States. The game is sometimes referred to as hardball in contrast
to the very similar game of softball.
Baseball is a sport played
between two teams usually of nine players each. It is a bat-and-ball
game in which a pitcher throws (pitches) a hard, fist-sized,
leather-covered ball toward a batter on the opposing team. The batter
attempts to hit the baseball with a tapered cylindrical bat. A team
scores runs only when batting, by advancing its players—primarily via
hits—counterclockwise past a series of four markers called bases
arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot square, or "diamond." The game,
played without time restriction, is structured around nine segments
called innings. In each inning, both teams are given the opportunity to
bat and score runs; a team's half-inning ends when three outs are
recorded against that team.
Fenway Park, Boston
Baseball is very popular
in East Asia and the Americas, although in South America its popularity
is mainly limited to the northern portion of the continent. In The
Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Japan, Cuba, Panama, Venezuela,
Nicaragua, South Korea, and Taiwan, it is one of the most popular
sports. The United States is the birthplace of baseball, where it has
long been regarded as more than just a "major sport"; for many decades,
it has been popularly referred to as the "national pastime."
Baseball has often been a barometer of the fabled American "melting
pot", as immigrants from different regions have tried to "make good" in
various areas including sports. In the 19th century, baseball was
populated with many players of Irish or German extraction. A number of
Native Americans had successful careers especially in the early 1900s.
Italians and Poles appeared on many rosters during the 1920s and 1930s.
Black Americans came on strong starting in the late 1940s after the
barriers had been lifted, and continue to form a significant contingent.
By the 1960s, Hispanics had started to make the scene, and had become a
dominant force by the 1990s. In the 21st century, East Asians have been
appearing in increasing numbers
Paul Bunyan is a
fictional, larger-than-life folk hero who embodies frontier vitality. He
is a symbol of might, the willingness to work hard, and the resolve to
overcome all obstacles. Paul Bunyan is part of the western tall tale
populates the landscape with beings of gigantic proportions. Paul
Bunyan, a lumberjack, and his companion
Babe the Blue Ox take on mosquitoes of tremendous proportions,
rainstorms that last for months, and natural obstructions like mountains
ranges in their stride. He was popularized by newspapermen across the
country in 1910 and has been a part of the American culture ever since.
The photo below was taken at an amusement park in Minnesota.
John Chapman (September 26, 1774–March 18, 1845) in Massachusetts,
Johnny Appleseed was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced the
apple to large parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois in the U.S. Midwest.
He became an American legend while still alive, largely because of his
kind and generous ways and his leadership in conservation.
popular image of Johnny Appleseed had him spreading apple seeds
randomly, everywhere he went. In fact, he planted nurseries rather than
orchards, built fences around them to protect them from livestock, left
the nurseries in the care of a neighbor who sold trees on shares, and
returned every year or two to tend the nursery. Because of the
poor transportation that existed in the interior in those days, apples
were a practical necessity in the early settlers’ diets.
His love for his
neighbor made him accepted as a peacemaker between the Indians and the
settlers. His path through the East and Midwest is today dotted with
many monuments to his memory, and the legend of Johnny Appleseed remains
a story of one individual living in harmony with nature and his fellow
John Henry, the Steel-Driving Man
An African American man named John Henry was
the hero of former slaves and the people who built the railroads. He
was known for his strength in the face of adversity and his willingness
to take on all challenges.
Railroad companies employed thousands of
workers to create the smooth, flat pathways required by trains to
traverse the continental United States in the last half of the 19th
Century. John Henry was perhaps the most famous. He was born a slave
in the southern United States and became a free man as a result of
America’s Civil War.
The best known
story surrounding John Henry was his legendary duel with a steam-powered
drill in order to prove whether man or machine was more productive in
laying down railroad track. John Henry eventually won the exhausting
contest, but immediately died thereafter, having sacrificed his life to
prove that, indeed, men are better than machines.
Confirming details of John Henry’s life is
impossible because no one knows for sure if he really lived. However,
the legend of John Henry is based, in part, on real events. Many people
say he represents the spirit of growth and determination in the United
States during the latter half of the 19th Century.
Updated: 20 May
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