Wishing all our readers a safe and wonderful Holiday Season with loved ones and friends and a new year of good health and happiness. A special shoutout to our men and women in unaccompanied foreign service assignments who will not be spending the holidays with their loved ones. Tennessee Williams writes that “time is the longest distance between two places.” May you bridge that distance soon. A few holiday greetings from our diplomatic posts in Poland, Norway, Austria, Thailand, Croatia, and Indonesia.
U.S. Embassy Warsaw, Poland
Diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw and Consulate General in Krakow await the arrival of Santa Claus…but will they receive presents or rózga from Santa’s elves this year? According to Polish legend, naughty children receive rózga – twigs – from Santa. A note from the embassy says that no personnel were injured in the filming of this video, although they did help a colleague find a local tailor – watch the bloopers! Video is currently on FB and has not been posted on the embassy’s YouTube channel, but it’s online courtesy of YouTube user Interpol 1923. Three years in a row for awesomeness! Click the links for the previous videos in 2013, and 2012.
U.S. Embassy Oslo, Norway
Vi mimer julen inn og ønsker hele Norge god jul og godt nytt år! Happy holidays from the U.S. Embassy in Oslo! Del gjerne videre!
U.S. Embassy Vienna, Austria
U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand
The U.S. Embassy in Thailand counting down to the New Year with its own version of a popular holiday song. Happy New Year everyone and Sawadii Pii Mai!
US Embassy Zagreb, Croatia
Year in Review 2014! Želimo vam sretan Božić i sve najbolje u novoj godini….
U.S. Consulate General Surabaya, Indonesia
Konjen AS di Surabaya mengucapkan selamat Hari Natal dan Tahun Baru 2015. Happy Holidays!
Below is a round-up of Halloween tweets around the Foreign Service. The Embassy Canberra tweet is of Ambassador Berry dressed up as a dinosaur and his spouse, Curtis Yee dressed up as a skeleton. They’re rather cute, aren’t they? Also, something new and disconcerting this year, at least we don’t recall this in previous years, but potential arrest exists in Jordan for wearing Halloween costumes in public. According to Embassy Amman, the Government of Jordan recently announced that public celebrations of Halloween and public appearances in Halloween costume are prohibited. “U.S. citizens should expect police reaction, including arrests, at any public Halloween-themed event.” Embassy Amman advises that U.S. citizens traveling from their home to a Halloween party, or vice versa, cover up their costumes while in public or in a car. Whoa!
Also, for the first time in memory, there, apparently, are folks in Foggy Bottom who are dressing up as the State Department spokespersons this Halloween. We don’t mind adults wearing dinosaur costumes, but we draw the line on going anywhere this Halloween on ISIS/ebola get-up, and Anything reminding us that the world is falling apart.
You very special, naughty snowflakes, real life is not disquieting enough in Foggy Bottom you had to add a gingered @statedeptspox with a mustache? And there are now four spoxes? Four? Waaaaaa! What the heck are we going to do with them?
Predictably, the tweeples threwspitballs on Twitter and no one added any more Happy to Halloween.
At the U.S. Embassy in Paris, a 45-star flag returned in 2013 is now on permanent display. The American flag was donated by Jean-Baptiste Lapierre fulfilling a promise he made to his grandmother to return the flag to American hands. A U.S. soldier reportedly gave the flag to Lapierre’s grandmother during the liberation of Paris in 1944. According to stripes.com, the 45 stars on the flag suggest it was likely made between 1896 and 1908 when the U.S. had just 45 states.
The 2014 July 4th celebrations at our diplomatic missions actually started this past February, with the U.S. Embassy Kathmandu celebration of the 238th Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America on February 22, 2014. This was followed by the US Embassy in Oman which hosted its independence day event on March 25, 2014 (see Open Season: This Year’s July 4th Independence Day Celebrations Officially On). Here are the well-timed red, white and blue celebrations that caught our eyes this year.
U.S. Consulate Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In an unprecedented tribute to U.S. Independence Day, Rio de Janeiro’s iconic the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro was lit with the colors of the American flag on July 3, 2014. U.S. Consul General to Rio de Janeiro John Creamer and Christ the Redeemer rector Father Omar Raposo were at the monument for the special lighting, which happens as Brazil hosts approximately 90,000 U.S. tourists for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Pretty cool!
U.S. Embassy Tallin, Estonia
This 4th of July cake was so huge that it needed six people to carry it into the event hosted by Ambassador Jeffrey Levine. We think that this cake was made by the Radisson Blu Hotel in Tallinn. We don’t know many many years the hotel has been making this cake for the annual event but just below the photo is the time lapse video showing the making of the 300KG 4th of July cake for Embassy Tallinn a couple of years ago. Amazing!
Independence Day Celebration, June 26, 2014 Photos by U.S. Embassy Tallinn
Embassy Canberra ran a social media Independence Day contest and came up with MasterChef Australia contestants akitchencat and The Bread & Butter ChefKylie Ofiu as winners to join them for the 4th of July bash. American chef Tory McPhail also arrived in Canberra last week and got the Embassy kitchen prepped and ready to feed over 600 people for the event hosted by Ambassador John Berry.
Rydhave, all ready to receive over 1.000 of Embassy Copenhagen’s closest friends and contacts. Entertainment this year was provided by Basim, and the band The Sentimentals. The Embassy’s own Sonia Evans performed the American national anthem.The food at the event was supplied by CP Cooking.
Actually no, the season officially opened last month when U.S. Embassy Kathmandu celebrated the 238th Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America on February 22, 2014. Nepal’s Vice President Paramananda Jha was the main guest at the event. According to Ambassador Peter W. Bodde’s prepared speech, this was the second year the embassy celebrated July 4th early “in the hopes of escaping monsoon weather.” Also, they chose this week “because in February we honor the birthdays of two of our great presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.” Eleven members of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force Band based in Okinawa, Japan entertained the guests at the chief of mission residence. More photos are available here.
Photo via US Embassy Nepal
Photo via US Embassy Nepal February 21, 2014
So, US Embassy Nepal had officially bumped off US Embassy Muscat for the first July 4th celebration of 2014. On March 25, 2014, the US Embassy in Oman hosted its 238th Independence Day event. According to ONA, Greta Christine Holtz, the US ambassador to the Sultanate gave a speech during which she affirmed the deep-rooted relations binding Omanis and Americans. In 2013, the embassy celebrated July 4th on May 24. More photos available here. In 2012, we did, Chew on This: US Embassy Oman Celebrates 4th of July (in February) with Fast Food Sponsors.It looks like they no longer display prominently the event’s corporate sponsors.
Photo via US Embassy Muscat
This year, we hope to do a Fourth of July fashion or food round-up. Give us a heads up if you have something interesting at post.
The Irish Times writes, “five ways Americans invented St Patrick’s Day, apparently.”
One YouTube commenter says, “Corn-beef and cabbage isn’t a tradition here it is potatoes and steak.” Another writes, “Obviously a joke just not funny.”
From somebody not/not happy about this:
“Americans did not invent Saint Patrick’s Day, which is an ancient Christian feast day, they just invented deeply tacky celebrations with an excess of lurid green elements (tolerable shades do exist) and inappropriate Scottish kilts (which Irish people do not wear), fake leprechaun outfits (leprechauns do not wear green) and fake-coloured quasi-“red” beards (leprechauns do not have red hair). It is noteworthy how leprechauns are never seen any more; they have been shamed into deeper reclusiveness than ever.”
From somebody who just love St. Patty’s Day Saint Paddy’s Day:
“Love St. Patrick’s Day Parades!! The one in St. Louis, Mo is great fun. Just visited Ireland and loved it. Everyone wants a bit of Ireland, so green pints, rivers and parades. Americans love to invent holidays, it means getting together for the parade and the the pints. Just glad it was invented!!”
Don’t pinch us, we’re wearing a non-tacky green leprechaun outfit on Monday!!
David Langbart of the National Archives writes that “the Great Depression had a serious negative impact on the situation of American diplomatic and consular officials overseas. Toward the end of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first year as president, he sent the following note to Secretary of State Cordell Hull (best known as the longest serving Secretary of State, holding the position in FDR‘s administration from 1933–1944).
Ten days after the President’s request, Secretary Hull sent him a draft. In a cover letter, the Secretary of State noted that the holiday greeting could be addressed to the head of all American diplomatic missions – Ambassadors, Ministers, Ministers Resident, Diplomatic Agents, and Charges d’Affaires – who would communicate the message to consular officers over whom they had jurisdiction. Because there were a number of consular officers not under the jurisdiction of a diplomatic officer, Hull suggested that a circular instruction be sent in such cases. Ultimately, to ensure that all consular officers received the greeting, it was sent under cover of a circular instruction to all consular officials.
After approval by the President, the Department prepared the letters for his signature and then staggered their dispatch in the diplomatic pouch so that they would arrive in the week before Christmas.
The President’s message read:
As the year draws to a holiday pause before its
close, I take much pleasure in sending out to you and
through you to your personal and official family, and
to the Foreign Service staffs in [name of country], my
heartiest good wishes. Your loyal and intelligent
cooperation with us in Washington has made these
recent months of our association a source of great
satisfaction and encouragement to me in this important
period of our country’s development.
In offering my best greetings for Christmas and
the New Year, I look forward in confident anticipation
to continuing mutual cooperation in 1934.
Some Foreign Service officers responded to the President’s message. Their comments make it clear that the message had its intended positive effect. Roosevelt sent similar messages in future years.
Employees from the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw and the U.S. Consulate General in Krakow along with their families with their “Jingle Bell Rock”cover recorded by American diplomats in Poland with the support of musician Stan Breckenridge, U.S. Distinguished Chair Fulbright Scholar to Poland from California State University, who is currently in Poland on the Fulbright Scholarship at Jagiellonian University. The video was created on the streets of Warsaw and Krakow. The clip includes Ambassador Stephen D. Mull, see the 00:12 mark. Last year, they did All I Want For Christmas Is You.
U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand
The U.S. Embassy Bangkok and U.S. Consulate General Chiang Mai wishing their Thai friends a happy new year. The clip below includes Ambassador Kristie Kenney on a motorbike at the 00:20 mark. In 2012, they did this video to the tune of Ruen Rerng Ta-lerng Sok by Soontaraporn.
U.S. Embassy Dublin, Ireland
With some cute little munchkins in the “town of the hurdled ford.”
U.S. Embassy Sofia, Bulgaria
U.S. Embassy Kampala, Uganda
U.S Mission Uganda wishing the Ugandan people a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Americans at the embassy do their best to send holiday greetings in a few Ugandan languages: Luganda, Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, Luo and Runyankore. Is that Ambassador Scott DeLisi at the 00:09 mark?
U.S Embassy Oslo, Norway
American diplomats tried to pronounce Norwegian words and phrases that relate to Christmas — Kålrabistappe – mashed rutabaga, Dorullnisse – “toilet roll santa,” Marsepangris – “marzipan pig,” Pepperkakemann – gingerbreadman, God Jul – Merry Christmas and more.
Starting with a single cellist on the floor of the National Air and Space Museum’s Milestones of Flight gallery and swelling to 120 musicians, The United States Air Force Band exhilarated museum visitors yesterday with its first-ever flash mob. The four-minute performance featured an original arrangement of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring/Joy to the World,” led by the Band’s commander and conductor, Col. Larry H. Lang. Unsuspecting museum visitors including tourists and school groups were astonished as instrumentalists streamed into the gallery from behind airplanes and space capsules, and vocalists burst into song from the Museum’s second floor balcony. Executive Producer: Col. Larry H. Lang.