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Every year, in early December, the city of Alexandria in the greater Washington D.C. area organizes the Holiday Boat Parade, a parade and contest in which boat owners decorate their boats with holiday lights and various themes, then sail from Alexandria, VA to Washington, DC.

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This year, the 2014 parade was held on Saturday, December 6, and started at 5:30 pm in Alexandria on the waterfront, near the old Torpedo Factory. The ships sailed on the Potomac through DC and arrived at the finish point, at the cruise boat wharf, 600 Water St SW, Washington DC.

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This is where my friends and I waited for the parade to arrive, around 7:30-8 pm. The parade organizers, sponsored by the Torpedo Factory Museum, had set up several tents, a fire, Christmas decorations, and were offering free gingerbread cookies, hot cocoa and s’mores (see below). They also had activities for children, such as animal balloons, paper lantern making and pictures with Santa. The event was great and offered more than we expected. I would definitely recommend it if you missed it this year.

 More information on the website of the city of Alexandria.

 

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This is me with my dog! Looking weird…

I do remember that the name of some foodstuffs here did not mean anything to me, at first. So for the foreigners who might be reading this article:

This is a s'more. Source: Hershey's

This is a s’more. Source: Hershey’s

S’mores, also spelled smores, are a type of sweet snack of chocolate and marshmallow that Americans make over a fire, traditionally when they go camping. One roasts a marshmallow over the fire, and puts in along with a few squares of chocolate between two halves of a large sweet cracker.

As for brands, people tend to use Hershey’s dark chocolate and Graham Crackers, mostly because Hershey’s started making smaller and thinner bars of cheap chocolate especially for making smores, and Graham Crackers is pretty much the only kind of sweet cracker that has this long rectangular shape.

This is what a gingerbread cookie usually looks like. Source: King Arthur's Flour

This is what a gingerbread cookie usually looks like. Source: King Arthur’s Flour

Gingerbread cookies (here, gingerbread men) are often bought or baked in the USA during the end-of-year holiday period.

I found through Wikipedia a series of monastery archives that indicate that the recipe for gingerbread was originally brought to Europe in year 992 by an Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, also called Gregory Makar, to the small village of Bondaroy in France. The knowledge then transited to Germany where it became different types of Lebkuchen, or Pfefferkuchen, then to Sweden, England and the rest of Europe centuries later. You can read all about gingerbread here on Wikipedia.

Note that France retains a widespread type of gingerbread, “pain d’epices” that translates as “spice bread”, which is a cake-like version. The USA on the other hand only has a range of small and relatively thin individual gingerbreads: gingerbread cookies, like the gingerbread men above, still moist enough, to ginger snaps, which are thin and brittle ginger cookies. Germany, on the other hand, and the UK, seem to have retained all kinds of gingerbread. How lucky!

This turned into a lengthy post, from the Holiday boat parade to gingerbread cookies. I hope you enjoyed reading, see you next time and happy holidays!