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What is the history of Easter? Where does it come from? Today’s Easter is derived from the ancient Jewish and Christian religions. Christians have celebrated the Resurrection — the day Jesus arose from the dead — around the time of the spring equinox for many centuries. Equinox means “equal night.” That’s the day when the night and day are of equal length, 12 hours each. This year, Easter is on April 12. How did Easter get its name? Some believe it was the name given to Jesus’ resurrection (when he rose from the dead) by the Frankish (French) church and comes from the Latin word alba which means white, because people wore white robes when they celebrated the resurrection. But alba also means sunrise, so when the name of the feast was translated into German, the sunrise meaning was picked instead of the white meaning. In old German, the word for sunrise was ostern, which became Easter, or the feast of the Lord’s Resurrection. Some scholars believe the name Easter came from the Scandinavian Ostra and the Teutonic Ostern or Eastre, both goddesses of mythology signifying spring and fertility, whose festival was celebrated

on the day of the vernal equinox. So what about the Easter Bunny and colored eggs? In pagan times, before there was Christianity or other organized religion, the Easter hare came to be. This was no normal hare (which is similar to a rabbit, but larger). The Easter hare was thought to be a sacred companion of the goddess of spring, Eostre. The hare and the rabbit were the most fertile animals known (this means they have lots of babies!), and they served as symbols of the new life during the spring season. Since long before Jesus Christ was born, parents told their children that the magic hare would bring them presents at the spring festival. The presents were often painted eggs, as these represented the new life starting at this time of year. Some accounts say that during the 4th century, consuming eggs during Lent (a period of fasting for six weeks before Easter) was taboo. Since spring is the peak egg-laying time for hens, people began to cook eggs in their shells to preserve them. Eventually people began decorating and hiding them for children to find during Easter, which gave birth to the Easter Egg Hunt. It is believed that the Chinese are the first people who painted eggs. During spring festivals almost 3,000 years ago, they exchanged red eggs as part of their celebration. Whether you celebrate the religious part of Easter or just enjoy the Easter Egg hunts and the legend of the Easter Bunny, the Easter holiday is a wonderful part of springtime.

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS... INDONESIA?

It’s time to get out your globe! You need to know about the imaginary lines on globes and maps. These lines are called lines of latitude and longitude, and they tell a pilot or ship’s captain exactly where in the world a certain place is located. Basically, latitude lines (also called parallels) are the horizontal lines on your map. Lines of longitude (also called meridians) are the vertical lines that run from the North Pole to the South Pole. This mapping system is written in degrees and uses the symbol °. Get ready to travel the world! Indonesia is an archipelago, a large group or chain of over 17,000 islands in Southeast Asia along the equator between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Six thousand of the islands are inhabited, and the largest islands include Bali, Java, Kalimantan, the Moluccas Islands, the Nusa Tenggara Islands, Sumatra and Irian Jaya or West Papua. To find Indonesia, get out your globe, and find longitude 120º E and latitude 5º S. About three times the size of Texas, Indonesia is bordered by the countries of Timor-Leste, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Formerly known as Dutch East Indies, Indonesia was once a colony of the Netherlands. The islands were occupied by the Japanese during World War II, and on August 17,1945, Indonesia declared its independence from the Netherlands. The capital is Jakarta. Though most of the country consists of coastal lowlands, the larger islands have mountains, and the climate is tropical. Indonesia’s industries include oil and natural gas, textiles, mining, rubber and tourism, and the islands are one of the world’s top destinations for surfing! Indonesia is part of the Pacific “ring of fire,” a horseshoe-shaped area with 452 volcanoes, and Indonesia has the greatest number of active volcanoes in the world – 120! Earthquakes frequently occur, and on December 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra created a tsunami, a series of large waves in the Indian Ocean that severely damaged a dozen countries in Asia, including Indonesia. Where in the Each year, Indonesians celebrate their rich and varied culture through festivals and fairs highlighting dance, art, music, World Word tsunami [tsoo-nah-mee], cow races, the rice harvest –– even kites. Another popular holiday, Kartini Day, takes place on April 21, with special a very large sea wave exhibitions and cultural performances to honor Raden Ayu (Ajoe) Kartini, a Javanese woman who a started a girl’s school and caused by an underwater worked for women’s rights in Indonesia. earthquake or volcanic Sources: “Indonesia,” The World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency, www.cia.gov; “Indonesia,” www.iexplore.com/ eruption. dmap/Indonesia; “Indonesia: History, Geography, Government and Culture,” www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107634.html.

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APRIL 2009

Kidsville News - April 2009  
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