This image comes from a folder of papers from the ‘Committee on World Friendship Among Children’ so I thought it would make a fitting image for today, Thanksgiving Day in America.
However although it’s a very appealing image and the title of the organisation ‘Committee on World Friendship Among Children’ sounds innocuous enough I have to admit to being slightly sceptical of them at first, thinking it was some kind of missionary organisation attempting to convert people of other religions to christianity. I’m glad to say though that looking through the material my scepticism fell away as it seems that this was an organisation seriously committed to promoting world peace through understanding and acceptance of cultural differences. The idea being that children are more open to accepting people without making judgements based on religion/colour/country of origin.
One of the founders of the organisation Dr Sidney Gulick conceived a programme of exchanged between American and Japanese schoolchildren designed to try to encourage understanding and harmony at a time when relations between Japan and America were becoming increasingly hostile. In 1926 he set up the Friendship Dolls programme which resulted in over 12,000 dolls being sent by American school children to Japanese school children in time for the Japanese festival of dolls, the O Hina Matsuri. You can read more about the project here.
I love the idea of a day of thanksgiving and really think it’s something we should revive in this country a bit more – or maybe some people still do? I remember when we were at primary school we used to celebrate the harvest festival, and I remember being thankful for having food when others don’t, for living in the countryside, for enjoying a very happy, healthy, peaceful life – and I think if celebrating Harvest can instill this in primary school children then it’s definitely a tradition to continue!