5 Things Kids Should Know About Passover

Passover is an eight-day Jewish holiday that celebrates the story of how the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Here are five things that kids should know about Passover.

  1. Passover is the oldest continuously celebrated Jewish festival.
  2. Seder, the traditional meal eaten to celebrate Passover, means “order.” Families eat very specific foods to remind them of the story of Passover. The bitter herbs are to remind them of the bitterness of slavery. The wine is a reminder of the rejoicing they felt when they were freed. The unleavened bread is a reminder that they had to leave Egypt so quickly that their bread didn’t have a chance to rise.
  3. Every seder table is set with a fifth cup of wine which is reserved for the Prophet Elijah. It is believed that Elijah will answer Jewish legal questions that the rabbis could not resolve. On the night of the Passover seder, the hope is that Elijah will return and answer the question of whether or not four or five cups of wine or grape juice should be drunk during the dinner.
  4. The last thing eaten at the seder is the afikomen, or dessert. The afikomen is hidden and the children at the meal must find and negotiate for its return. Until the afikomen is found the meal cannot be completed.
  5. During the first two days and the last two days of Passover participants do not go to school or work; instead, they say special prayers and eat meals together.

Happy Passover, and to all of you who celebrate it, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

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How Did Easter Get Its Name?

It is believed that Easter actually gets its name from an Old English word, Ēastre, that was given to the month of April in honor of a pagan goddess,  Ēastermōnaþ.

This goddess is believed to have been the deity associated with spring and fertility and some Easter symbols that we would recognize today – eggs and rabbits, or hares – were used during this celebration.

In addition, feasts were held in her honor, but by the 8th century, these had given way to the Christian festival of Easter, which celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Most of the information on this theory of how Easter got its name comes from Bede, a monk in what is today England.

Jacob Grimm, one of the two brothers famous for their collection of old stories and myths, supported Bede’s claims on the origin of the name Easter although scholars dispute this theory.

However – and wherever – Easter got its name, it is celebrated by more than one in three people in the world.


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Why Is There an Easter Bunny?

My five year old nephew asked the other day, “Why is there an Easter bunny that brings eggs if only birds can lay eggs?”

It’s a great question – and one countless other children have asked.

Here are five reasons why the Easter Bunny – and not the Easter Birdie – brings those eggs around on Easter Sunday morning.

  1. Rabbits are a traditional symbol of spring because they are known for their fertility.
  2. Rabbits – and their ability to have so many offspring – encourage hope in a better, brighter future that is abundantly fruitful.
  3. An egg-laying rabbit speaks to people’s desire for something mystical and magical in their spring celebrations. It’s a little like magic when flowers break through the frozen ground and free people from the long, hard winter.
  4. Rabbits symbolize innocence and wonder, childlike qualities that correspond with the rebirth and rejuvenation people feel when spring returns.
  5. Like the lamb, rabbits are associated with religious sacrifice; Easter is a time when Christians celebrate the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus.

I’m not sure if any of these reasons will satisfy my inquisitive nephew, but it may satisfy the curiosity of some adults who have often pondered the same question.

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Is the Easter Bunny French?

The origins of the Easter Bunny – that long-eared rabbit who generously leaves candy in the baskets of good boys and girls and hides brilliantly colored eggs for them to find – can be traced to Alsace, a region that is now located in France but which was for many years part of Germany.

The first written mention of the Easter Bunny came in a book by Germany’s Georg Franck von Frankenau called De Ovis Paschalibus (About Easter Eggs).

The Easter Bunny came to America in the 1700s when German immigrants came to Pennsylvania and brought with them the legend of the Osterhase, an egg-laying hare. Children made nests for the rabbit to lay colored eggs.

Eventually, the Osterhase, or Easter Bunny, began to deliver chocolate, jelly beans, and other candy and gifts.

To thank the Easter Bunny, children left out carrots to help him keep his energy up!

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French Islands in North America

You’ve heard about the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec, but have you heard about the French islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, located off the coast of Canada at the entrance of Fortune Bay?

Amazingly, hundreds of years after France relinquished its hold over other North American territories, it maintains the islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.

Equally amazing is the history of the islands, which transferred back and forth between England and France several times since Europeans took notice of them in 1520. At that time, they were held by the Micmac Indian tribe.

Today, the islands are a French territory. Located close to the Grand Banks, fishing is a major industry for the residents of the islands, although many also work in the public sector.

Approximately 6,300 people live on the two islands; more than 5,700 of them live on the island of Saint-Pierre.

Since the islands are so small, there are no street names. Residents give directions using landmarks, nicknames, and people’s residences as markers.

The only time the guillatine was used in North America was on a man convicted of murder on the island of St. Pierre. The guillatine had to be shipped from France. It was never used again and is now in a museum on Saint-Pierre.


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Holi: The Indian Festival of Color

Wouldn’t you love to celebrate the coming of spring with a wild and exuberant festival where you didn’t have to behave and got to throw colored powder and perfume on people? Sounds like fun!

That’s the festival of Holi, an Indian holiday that is believed to commemorate the faithfulness of a young man, Prahlada, who continued to worship the god, Vishnu, even after he was ordered to stop by his father. His father commanded him and his aunt, Holika, into a fire that burnt up the aunt but spared Prahlada. The name Holi comes from the unlucky aunt.

Followers of Hinduism offer prayers on Holi and light bonfires to commemorate the story of Prahlada, as well.

The festival can last for a few days and it is generally seen as a time where people do not have to adhere to the strict social code in India but can relax and celebrate.

Although celebrations may vary by region, Holi is an important holiday in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.


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The Best Countries for Women & Girls

Photo courtesy of DoSomething.org

Happy 101st International Women’s Day!

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re sharing some news about women from around the world.

The British newspaper, The Independent, reviewed data from around the world to evaluate how women are faring.

Studies show that by focusing on education for women in developing countries and providing them with the means to support themselves and their families, the rates of poverty and child mortality decrease dramatically.

Working together, we can create a world where every child has access to a quality education, health care, and enjoys their human rights and liberties.


In Rwanda, women hold 45 out of 80 parliamentary seats. This is the only country in the world where there are more women than men at this level of political prominence. Belize, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have no female members of parliament.

Photo courtesy: AlmostAllTheTruth.com

Business & Work Place

Thailand has the most women managers in the work place in the world. Forty-five percent of senior managers in Thailand are women. In the US, only 20 percent of women hold senior management positions. In Japan, only 8 percent of senior management jobs are held by women.

In Jamaica, almost 60 percent of the high-skilled jobs are held by women.

Life Expectancy

Japanese women have the longest life expectancy in the world – 87 years.


The United States is the best place in the world to be a female athlete. Five out of the ten best-paid female athletes in the world are from the US. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has never sent a woman to the Olympics.


Lesotho has the best female literacy rate compared to the men’s rate in the world. Ninety-five percent of women in Lesotho can read and write. Only 83 percent of the men in Lesotho can read and write.

Best Overall

Taking political participation, education, health, and employment statistics into account, Iceland has been named the best country in the world for women.

In honor of International Women’s Day, let’s do our best to encourage and inspire the girls and young women in our lives so that we can make every country the best country on earth for them.

To read the entire report, click here.

For more facts about the status of women and girls around the world, check out DoSomething.org’s website and Almostallthetruth.com.

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Read About Purim With Kids

The story of Purim is very meaningful for Jewish people for religious and cultural reasons, and it can have special significance for anyone whose faith uses the Old Testament. But it also is a great example of a story where a young woman is the hero who saves her people.

Not only is it important for girls and boys to hear stories where a woman is the hero, but it’s also important to provide children with examples of real people exhibiting courage and conviction. These are two character traits that most adults would like to see children develop and maintain throughout their lives, so why not start by encouraging them to find role models, such as Queen Esther? Here are some book recommendations to help you share the story of Purim with the children in your life.

The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale by Eric A. Kimmel and Jill Weber

Cakes and Miracles : A Purim Tale by Barbara Diamond Goldin and Jaime Zollars

The Purim Costume by Peninnah Schram

The Queen Who Saved Her People by Tilda Balsley and Ilene Richard

When It’s Purim (Very First Board Books) by Edie Stoltz Zolkower and Barb Bjornson

To learn more about Purim with KidCulture, read The Festival of Purim and discover how to make the famous Purim cookie hamantaschen when you read our post on Purim Cookie: Haman’s Ears.

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Read Some Lucky Books For St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is usually known for the wearing of the green, shamrocks, leprechauns, and green beverages. But as you celebrate this year, consider reading a few books about Irish history, culture, and humor – kid-friendly, of course! Here are some suggestions, but feel free to share your own.

St. Patrick and the Three Brave Mice by Joyce Stengel and Herb Leonhard

Too Many Leprechauns: Or How That Pot o’ Gold Got to the End of the Rainbow by Stephen Krensky and Dan Andreasen

The Leprechaun’s Gold by Pamela Duncan Edwards and Henry Cole

Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie dePaola

That’s What Leprechauns Do by Eve Bunting and Emily Arnold McCully

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover! by Lucille Colandro and Jared D. Lee


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The Longest Party in the World

Although Carnival, the traditional festivities celebrated by Christians around the world before Lent begins, has already come and gone, one country has the distinction of hosting the longest Carnival celebrations of any other nation.

The people of Uruguay, a South American country located on the Atlantic coast and nestled between Brazil and Argentina, celebrates Carnival for 40 days!

Although the Carnival celebrations in Brazil gain more attention, Uruguay’s Carnival has religious, cultural, social, and political meaning.

Like most countries, Uruguay hosts parades as part of their Carnival celebrations. The Desfile de Carnaval, which means the Carnival Parade, and the Desfile de Llamadas, the “Calls Parade”, which is a re-enactment of colonial times.

In addition, Uruguay has a strong musical and comedy tradition. Street performances, called murga, mix music, acting, and comedy and are used to amuse and entertain children while offering biting political satire for grown-ups.

Judges visit the murga in different neighborhoods and award prizes for the best.

Although Carnival in Uruguay ended on Ash Wednesday, there’s plenty of time to make plans to visit Uruguay for Carnival 2013!



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