US President Joe Biden on Monday symbolically spared the lives of two turkeys before Thanksgiving on Thursday. In this way, he maintained a tradition dating back to the times of Abraham Lincoln.
“I hereby pardon you, Liberty and Bell. Congratulations, birds,” Biden said during a brief ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, addressing two 20-pound turkeys from Minnesota.
Both birds are male, named Liberty and Bell after the historic Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, a symbol of American independence. Biden said he was told that because they are from Minnesota, they like apples, playing ice hockey, the lakes for which the state is famous and the Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in the country located outside Minneapolis.
During his speech, the president referred to his 81st birthday on Monday, joking that “it’s hard to turn 60.”
The presentation of turkeys is the unofficial beginning of the holiday season in America, although on Sunday the president participated in the so-called “friendsgiving” – a Christmas dinner among friends – with soldiers at the naval base in Norfolk.
The tradition of presidents “pardoning” turkeys dates back to Abraham Lincoln, who saved the life of his turkey before Christmas at the request of his 10-year-old son Tad in 1863. The ritual was initiated as an annual event in 1989 by George Bush Sr.
From Washington Oskar Górzyński (PAP)