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It is a rare event to have 50 princesses visit the Lithuanian Embassy all at once, but the annual Cherry Blossom is a magical event in Washington DC. Although Japan is the natural home for the annual cherry blossom festivals, Washington, DC with thousands of trees, mostly donated by Japan, comes a close second. Every year, since 1948 there is also a State Society organised Cherry Blossom Princess contest. The princesses are the highlight of the Cherry Blossom Festival, this weekend, in the capital's centre and a major event in the US Capitol building.
Cherry Blossoms at Tidal Bassin with the Washington Monument   Photo Ludo Segers
Cherry Blossoms at Tidal Bassin with the Washington Monument Photo Ludo Segers

Lithuanian Ambassador to the USA, Žygimantas Pavilionis had the honour on Tuesday to host these 50 young women from every US state and a few countries, including Japan. For several years now, there is also a Lithuanian princess. This year the honour belongs to Eglė Jakučiūnaitė representing Lithuania. The ambassador presented the Cherry Blossom princesses with an overview of Lithuania, including some of the current issues. Typically, the princesses are between 18 and 24 years old. This year several younger princesses participated. Some of them were clearly well prepared and had some well-informed questions for the ambassador. The ambassador invited all to visit Lithuania and to see the country close-up or perhaps in the future as business leaders to invest in Lithuania's wealth of human talent.

The welcome was followed with refreshments and 'šakotis', a typical Lithuanian spit cake. The cake, cooked on a rotating spit over an open fire, was particularly popular with the princesses. Eglė Jakučiūnaitė assisted by the Embassy's Liana Vazbiene had a short quiz where the Cherry Blossom Princesses could demonstrate their knowledge about Lithuania and what they learned earlier from the Ambassador's presentation. Their knowledge was impressive!

The cherry blossom trees have a long history in the US capital. The first trees were donated by Japan in 1912. Most of the trees line the Tidal Basin in front of the Jefferson Memorial. Their peak bloom varies, but usually it is in early April. This year the blooming is delayed due to a long cold winter. However, the timing seems perfect for the Cherry Blossom festival, as the 'peak blooming' will be this weekend. The pink trees bring thousands of tourists out with their cameras.

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