While the gold found in North America was usually in the form of dust or very fine grains, it was commonplace in Australia to find nuggets of gigantic size and value. The largest of these, the “Holtermann Nugget,” weighed more than 600 pounds (290 kg)! In America, a common form of gold mining was called panning. Gold panning involves separating the heavy gold from the lighter sand in a river with a metal pan. This method doesn’t require a lot of equipment to get started, but miners mostly collect small flakes. Shaft mining and open pit mines usually produce the most gold, but they require expensive equipment, are more dangerous and destroy the environment. The largest specimen of gold ever found is called the Holtermann Nugget.Bernhardt Holtermann found it in 1872 in Australia. The specimen is 59 inches long and 630 pounds. It yielded 15,488 ounces of gold, and it made Holtermann very wealthy. Gold is heavy, but it is also soft. It is easy to shape – this is called being malleable. It is considered a precious metal. Gold is so valuable because it is used for many things like jewelry, computers and batteries. 12 tons of gold are used to fill cavities in teeth every year in the U.S. Gold is measured in karats. If something is 100 percent gold, it is 24 karats. easyscienceforkids.com historychannel.com.au sciencewithkids.com britannica.com
When we think about exploring other cities or countries, we often compare our lives to the lives of people who live in these other places. Are they similar or different to us in values, entertainment or tastes? Close your eyes and think about December. What do you see in your mind’s eye? Maybe you see a lighting of the Shabbat candles, a manger or a bendera. The symbols that come to mind are likely connected to holiday traditions your family shares. The culture in Norway is to take holiday traditions seriously because they have been beloved for so long. Their traditions revolve around a holiday called Jul, which is Norway’s name for Christmas. To imagine a Norwegian Jul, think of a fireplace-warmed home heavy with snow and the smell of spiced clementine. Most begin making preparations in early December, not unlike many families you probably know. On Dec. 24, a family dinner is served, typically featuring either pork or lamb ribs. This probably sounds familiar to you, but does your family celebrate Santa Lucia Day Dec. 13? Today, this celebration is one of light, as “Lucia” is derived from its Latin origins, and it’s quite a big deal for school children all over the Nordic country. As it’s now a sort of festival of lights, it may be hard to imagine that it used to represent the darkest day of the calendar year when those who celebrated Christmas would mark their door with crosses to ward off the trail of unsettled dead souls (the Asgard parade). Sources: mylittlenorway.com/2008/12/saint-lucia-day/ www.visitnorway.com/about/history-traditions/christmas/
Maybe you’ve eaten a few peanuts and seen elephants at the circus or in a movie pick up peanuts with their trunks to eat them. You may have even learned in school that George Washington Carver made many, many foods and products from peanuts. But do you know what connection China has to peanuts? Well, China produces more peanuts than any other country in the whole world. It’s true! In fact, according to the World Atlas, China produces approximately 8 percent of the world’s peanuts, which is almost twice as many peanuts as the second peanut production runner-up, India. The United States does love its peanuts, though. According to the National Peanut Board, it’s the third-largest producer of peanuts in the world. The U.S. had two peanut farmers to serve as presidents. Thanks, Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter! And it has six cities named after these peanuts! But alas, because China produces the most peanuts, it still wears the peanut crown. Not everyone calls the small legumes peanuts. Peanuts are also known as groundnuts, which makes sense because they don’t grow on trees like a lot of other nuts — they grow under the ground like potatoes or carrots! The National Peanut Board says on its website that in one year the world, as a whole, produces about 29 million metric tons of peanuts. It also explains that for every 12-ounce jar of peanut butter you have in your pantry, it took approximately 540 peanuts to make it! That’s a lot of peanuts!
Every year in India, people celebrate Diwali. It is a Hindu celebration of lights that takes place each fall. It’s the nation’s biggest festival, and it celebrates the victory of good over evil. The festival includes putting lights on housetops, in windows, in doorways and other parts of buildings. Festival preparations usually take about five days. To get ready, people clean and decorate their homes and offices. On Diwali night, people put on their best clothes, light lamps and candles and conduct family prayers. After the prayers are fireworks, and people exchange gifts and have a big meal. Diwali is also celebrated in other countries, including Fiji, Guyana, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago. Oct. 31 is Halloween. People young and old dress up in costumes and share scary stories. Children go trick-or-treating and have fun together. No one is sure how trick-or-treating started as a tradition. Some people think it dates back to pre-Christian Celtic festivals about 2,000 years ago. Others say it has its roots in a British custom called Guy Fawkes Night, where children wear masks and beg for pennies. It’s likely that some colonists celebrated Guy Fawkes Night and the tradition continued here. Americans spend about $6 billion on Halloween every year. It’s the second-largest commercial holiday in the U.S.
We celebrate Labor Day on Sept. 4 this year. For many, Labor Day marks the end of the summer season, but there is another reason we take off work on the first Monday in September. It is a day dedicated to celebrating the U.S. worker and the contributions workers have made to the success of America. Labor Day was first celebrated in 1882 in New York City. It was the Central Labor Union that first acknowledged this holiday. In 1887, Oregon made it an official holiday. In 1894, it became an official national holiday. Based on the astronomical season, Sept. 22 marks the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere. Meteorologists use a different method to determine seasons, a method based on temperatures. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, there are several folktales and sayings about this season. A few of them include: “Trees snapping and cracking in the autumn indicate dry weather;” “If, in the fall of the leaves in October, many of them wither on the boughs and hang there, it betokens a frosty winter and much snow;” “Spring rain damps. Autumn rain soaks.”
Italy Have you ever heard of the “Dog Days of Summer?” It doesn’t actually have anything to do with dogs. It has to do with the stars — one star, specifically. In ancient Greece, people believed that the constellation Canis Major (a dog) was chasing the rabbit constellation known as Lepus. The saying refers to the star Sirius, which is the dog’s nose. In late July/early August, when the dog’s nose rose just before the sun, it was considered the hottest part of the summer. In reality, it was not always the hottest part of the season. This part of summer was also considered a time of bad luck and misfortune for the ancient Greeks and Romans. Ferragosto is an Italian tradition that goes back hundreds of years. Ferragosto is technically on August 15. It is a Catholic celebration of the Assumption of Mary. But for many, it is the kickoff of their annual vacation. During this time, many Italian families leave town. Stores and restaurants are closed during this time as well. Ferragosto festivities that take place on Aug. 15 include live dance performances, fireworks displays, pageants and games.
The United States Of America July 4 is America’s birthday. If you haven’t heard the story by now, you are missing a good one! On June 7, 1776, the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. The colonists were frustrated. It was Richard Henry Lee who submitted the resolution claiming the 13 colonies should be independent from Britain. By July 1, Thomas Jefferson had drafted the Declaration of Independence, and the Continental Congress was ready to reconvene and take action. Twelve of the 13 colonies were in agreement. Only New York refused to vote. After some minor revisions, the Declaration of Independence was adopted, and America was born! The very next year, on July 4, 1777, people celebrated America’s birthday with fireworks. It’s a tradition that continues to this day. Our neighbor to the north, Canada, also celebrates its independence this month, but on July 1. On that date in 1867, the British Parliament passed the British North America Act, making Canada a self-governing nation. Originally, the holiday was known as Dominion Day, but it was changed to Canada Day by the Canadian Parliament on Oct. 27, 1982.
Let’s hear it for Dads! Sunday, June 18, is Father’s Day. It is a day to celebrate fathers, fatherhood and father gures. June 19, 1910, was when Washington state rst celebrated Father’s Day. But it wasn’t until 1972 that then- President Woodrow Wilson made Father’s Day a nationwide holiday. That’s 58 years after Mother’s Day was declared. We don’t have to wait for an official holiday to celebrate dads, though. Every day is a good day to let them know you love them! The first day of summer in America is June 21 at 12:24 a.m. Eastern time. It coincides with the summer solstice.This is when the Sun reaches its northernmost point from the equator. It’s often known as the longest day of the year because (in the Northern Hemisphere at least) it is the day with the most hours of sunlight. In Iceland, though the First Day of Summer (sumardagurinn fyrsti) is a public holiday celebrated on the first Thursday after April 18. Under the Old Norse calendar, which Icelanders followed for a long time, there were only two seasons: winter and summer. So even though it’s not that warm in Iceland in April, Icelanders still celebrate the occasion with parades, sporting events, music and other festivities.
GERMANY In Germany, May 1 is a holiday. It is called Der Erste Mai (The First of May) and it takes place the night between April 30 and May 1. This is sometimes known as Walpurgisnacht (Witches Night). It’s an old tradition where people spend the evening outside. They have bonfires, make Maypoles to use the next day and play tricks on each other. A maypole is a tall pole (usually made of wood) that often has ribbons attached to the top. People dance around the Maypole. Around the world, May 1 is known as International Worker’s Day. In 1886, workers across America were fed up with working long hours for low pay. So, they went on strike. The workers wanted shorter work days. Instead of working 12 or 15 hours or more each day, they were asking to work eight hours a day. The strike lasted three days, and during that time, more than a dozen people died. It was an important time in history because this moved America toward an eight-hour workday, which changed things for people Around the world, May 1 is known as International Worker’s Day. In 1886, workers across America were fed up with working long hours for low pay. So, they went on strike. The workers wanted shorter work days. Instead of working 12 or 15 hours or more each day, they were asking to work eight hours a day. The strike lasted three days, and during that time, more than a dozen people died. It was an important time in history because this moved America toward an eight-hour workday, which changed things for people across America. Sunday, May 14, is Mother’s Day. It’s a celebration of moms and motherhood and a time to recognize the impact moms have on their families. One of the best things about Mother’s Day is that it is a wonderful time to show the women in your life who have nurtured you how much you care about them.
Do you like to play pranks on people? If so, there is a day made just for you – April Fool’s Day! No one is sure when the tradition of playing jokes on each other on the rst of April started, but there are a few theories. Some historians think it originated in ancient Roman times as a festival called Hilaria. The celebration involved dressing up in disguises. Others think it originated in 1582 when France started using the Gregorian calendar instead of the Julian calendar we use today. Some people forgot about this calendar switch and others made fun of them for it and played jokes on them. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. —Margaret Mead Saturday, April 22, is Earth Day. On this day, people around the world come together and attend events to show support for the environment and ways we can protect it. On the rst Earth Day, which was celebrated in 1970, 22 million Americans celebrated. You don’t have to wait for April 22 to be kind to the planet, though. There are things we can do every day that will make a di erence. Find out more at EPA
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