WELCOME TO NICKER STORIES
Nicker Stories is a FREE monthly emagazine for children of all ages. A new issue comes out at the beginning of each month. With it you can get, and share, the calendar of strange and fun holidays to celebrate. Another monthly feature is Story Hour. This month, Gordie gets it into his head to be the Easter Tortoise. Imagine a 120-pound walking boulder trying to hop with a basket of eggs. He might have won that famous race with the hare, but this just might be a bit beyond him.
Tell your friends, neighbors, relatives, neighbors, and strangers about Nicker Stories.
WHAT’S GOING ON FOR APRIL?
For many, April brings one of the most important holidays of the year – Easter. It is believed that Jesus Christ was crucified and on this day was arisen and went to heaven. Christmas, in December, celebrates the day he was born – this celebrates the day he was REborn.
April has several holidays around this, such as Palm Sunday and Good Friday. In the middle of the month is the beginning of Jewish Passover. This brings the Seder feast to celebrate the escape of the slaves from Egypt. What a great time to learn about other cultures!
This is also when the northern hemisphere is coming back to life. Winter is finally over – mostly. Soon flowers will be growing again. The migrating birds will be coming home. Crops will be planted so we have good things to eat. Temperatures warm. The days are longer. For much of the world, life begins again. (Remember – in the southern hemisphere the opposite is happening.)
Do you know anything about amateur radio? April is the month to celebrate, and at the end of the month is Morse Code Day. It used to be that if you wanted to send a note, it would take weeks or months, if it ever got there at all. The telegraph was developed, but that needed wires. It was discovered that there was a way to send signals through the air – wireless. This fascinated a lot of people. Many companies and scientists got involved, but so did many, many individuals. They weren’t paid to do this and so were amateur radio operators, also called hams. Many of the things we just accept probably wouldn’t exist without them. They are also the ones who handle communications in emergencies when there would be none without them. If you see a large antenna in someone’s yard, that is probably a ham radio operator. He or she might be talking to someone on the other side of the world right now!
PARIL 1 – IRLAP LOFOS YAD
Going way back, the Romans celebrated Hilaria on March 25th. Some Spanish speaking countries still honor the Feast of Fools on December 28th. A tradition in places like Italy, France and Belgium is to stick a paper fish to someone and shout, “April FISH!” The oldest known is from Iran and is called Sizdah Bedar. That goes back to 536 BC. People like to play pranks. But, be nice about it. This also begins Golden Rule Week. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
APRIL 1-7 – GOLDEN RULE WEEK
“Treat others as you would have them treat you” is said many different ways but means the same thing. It is believed to have been first said by Confucius. Since then, the same idea has become part of every religion and every culture. It’s a rule that should be lived throughout the year – and throughout our lives. This is a good week to pay attention to how you treat others.
APRIL 2 – PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY DAY
This holiday is perfect for a Nicker and Gordie picnic. The peanut butter can be any kind, but as you can guess, Gordie prefers grape jelly. Neither of them care much for bread so it’s Danny who eats the sandwiches. Various kinds of jams and jellies have been around longer than anyone knows. Peanut butter came much later. In the early 1900s it could be found only very fancy New York restaurants and tearooms. Later in that century, ways to make it were developed and it became even “doctor recommended.” You can go to *Lunch With Nicker* and learn how to make it yourself. (With s bit of work, you can also learn how to make jam or jelly!)
APRIL 3 – FIND A RAINBOW DAY
“April showers bring May flowers – and Mayflowers bring Pilgrims.” Winter has let go. Spring showers become more common. As sunlight passes through the drops, it breaks into colorful rainbows. If it’s not raining to make a rainbow, you can use a prism. Or just get out your crayons or paints and make your own rainbow.
APRIL 5 – WALK AROUND THINGS DAY
Gordie hasn’t figured this out yet. He doesn’t think about walking around things – he goes through them or pushes them aside. But you’re smarter than a tortoise – right? You know to walk around something that is in your way. For this holiday, you have the excuse to do it on purpose! Before you sit down for dinner, walk around the table. Walk around a chair before you sit down. Walk a circle around the room before you go out the door. Walk around the car to get in.
APRIL 6-12 – BAT APPRECIATION WEEK
Bats are the only mammals able to actually fly. There are others, like flying squirrels, that can glide. As mammals, only bats can flap their wings and actually fly. There really are vampire bats that drink blood – but they don’t have fangs, and are fairly rare. Most bats eat things like insects or fruit. By the way, other than being mammals, they are not related to mice.
APRIL 7 – BEAVER DAY
Are you an eager beaver? Beavers are best known for the dams they build. These can cause streams to back up and to flood. Their lodges can weigh more than a ton. Inside, they make rooms. To get to those rooms you would have to know secret passages.
APRIL 8 – DRAW A BIRD DAY
Bats are the only mammals that fly. Most birds fly. They have wings, even birds that don’t fly, like ostriches, emus and penguins, have wings. Wings are the bird versions of arms. They also have legs. Usually the feet have claws, called talons. They’re a little like your toe nails. Some birds use them for hunting, some birds use them to grab onto a branch. Some birds, like ducks, geese and loons, use their feet like paddles to swim in the water. Do you have a favorite bird? This is a good day to learn more about them and make some drawings.
APRIL 10 – FARM ANIMALS DAY
Cow, horse, mule, ox, goat, chicken, turkey, ostrich …. This is Farm Animals Day. The kind(s) of animals depends a lot on where you are in the world. If you live in Iowa, it’s not likely that you will have ostriches or yaks. Chickens are common just about everywhere, but you will be surprised at the varieties. Then there are geese, pigs, and most farms also have cats and dogs. Wherever you are in the world, farm animals feed us in so many ways. And in your own backyard you have a farm of sorts. Maybe you have robins or squirrels?
APRIL 11 – DAY OF SILENCE
Shhhh. For one day, shhhh. Don’t talk. Turn off the TV and radio. It’s a day to be quiet. Let nature talk. Shhhh.
APRIL 13 – THOMAS JEFFERSON DAY
People began to come to America, especially people from Europe. Eventually, those settlers decided to make their own country. The Declaration of Independence was written. One of the most important people to write it was Thomas Jefferson, who later became the third president of the new United States. Many consider him the greatest of all the presidents in America, and one of the most intelligent people ever. He was born in 1743 and died in 1826.
APRIL 14-20 – ASTRONOMY WEEK
Look up. In the day mostly you see clouds and the sun. At night, the sky can fill with speckles, and of course that brighter thing we call the moon. Most of the speckles are stars, much like our sun. Some are galaxies, which are vast collections of stars. Even if you don’t have a telescope, you can explore the skies this week. Just look up … and pay attention. There is a lot up there. You can learn about the moon, planets, but we are just one solar system, in just one galaxy, in a universe of thousands of galaxies. When you’re looking up, though, don’t forget to look down. It’s all part of the same thing.
APRIL 15 – TITANIC REMEMBRANCE DAY
It was supposed to be the biggest, strongest, grandest ship ever built. It was said to be unsinkable. On its first voyage … it sank. Just before midnight and nearing Newfoundland, it crashed into an iceberg. Within a couple of hours, it broke and sank, taking with it more than a thousand people into that icy sea.
APRIL 17 – BLAH BLAH BLAH DAY (WELLCAT)
Our friends at WELLCAT.COM do some wonderful things. One is to come up with terrific holidays. What does “blah blah blah” mean? Well, pretty much it means nothing at all, or that you are saying means nothing at all.
APRIL 18 – GOOD FRIDAY
This is the Easter season. According to Christian belief, Jesus died on the cross this day. He was then reborn the following Sunday, which is called Easter. Many people fast (don’t eat) on this day.
APRIL 19 – GARLIC DAY
Garlic is related to the onion. It has been used for at least 7000 years. It is used to flavor foods, and is also thought to be a good medicine for many things. Some say that it will even keep vampires away! A common complaint is bad breath. Whew!
APRIL 20 – EASTER SUNDAY
Do you celebrate Easter? Even if you’re not a Christian, many do. As a religious holiday, it’s very important to Christians. Like Christmas, it also brings in many other things. Christmas has Santa Claus, ad Easter has the Easter Bunny. Many also celebrate the new growing season and wear colorful clothes, sometimes in parades. Easter eggs are usually decorated. It is said that this began by coloring eggs red like the blood of Jesus.
APRIL 22 – EARTH DAY
Earth Day began in 1970 and is now celebrated in 192 countries. The idea came from John McConnell to be a day to honor the Earth, and particularly to work for worldwide peace. These days, the day concentrates more on the environment.
APRIL 23 – MACARONI DAY
Unlikely spaghetti, macaroni is usually hollow. In much of the world it is curved, but in other parts it is straight. Correctly, it is made with durum wheat and no eggs. These days, though, you can go to the store and find packages of spinach macaroni, yolkless macaroni and all sorts of other kinds … that aren’t really macaroni in the first place! Then there are all other kinds, with different sizes and shapes and some with grooves.
APRIL 24 – PIG IN THE BLANKET DAY
Way WAY back, no one knows how far, people began to put meats in skins. They might be boiled, broiled, toasted or put on a stick over a fire. From this we eventually got sausage, which led to hot dogs. Bread was also an important part of the diet, even when meat wasn’t available. Eventually, the two came together. Sausages were messy and so began to be served in buns. The pig was the sausage, the bun was the blanket. It doesn’t end there, though. In some parts of the world, “pig in a blanket” means a sausage wrapped in bacon. It might be the entire meal, or could be an appetizer before Christmas dinner, or some other holiday. A variation gave us the corn dog – a hot dog dipped in batter and then deep fried.
APRIL 25 – PENGUIN DAY
The penguin is another bird that doesn’t fly … unless it is in water, and then the way it swims sure does look like flying. Despite what many believe, only a few penguins live in Antarctica and none at all live at the North Pole. Some live near the Equator, but none north of that, so they are all in the southern hemisphere, and most fairly close to South America.
APRIL 26 – PRETZEL DAY
You might think of pretzels as being crispy little sticks. They are. Or you might think of pretzels as large chunks of twisted bread. They are. Most of the time they are salted, but not always. Some like them dipped in mustard, while others treat them as bread sticks to dip into a garlic butter sauce. They might have seeds on them, or cheese in them. Making your own isn’t difficult!
APRIL 27 – MORSE CODE DAY
April is Amateur Radio Month. Amateurs, often called hams, use radios to communicate all around the world. A big part of this is to help out in emergencies. It’s not always someone talking. Less power can go farther if the signal is just an on or an off. That’s what started it all. Before there were telephones there was telegraph. On or off. Each letter, number and other things were a series of on or off, of different lengths. A standard was made, called Morse Code. It’s still used today.
APRIL 30 – BUGS BUNNY
“What’s up, Doc?” One of the most popular and famous of cartoon characters is this waskly wabbit. (That’s what Elmer Fudd calls him.) He even has his own star on the Walk of Stars in Hollywood. You can watch some of the cartoons at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nJNdtD-lPc.
COMING NEXT MONTH
MAYDAY, MAYDAY! Or if you know a little Morse Code, di-di-dit dah-dah-dah di-di-dit. That’s Morse Code for SOS – which does not mean “save our ship.” It actually doesn’t mean anything. It’s a signal that is easy to hear and not confuse with any other.
May as a month isn’t an emergency. It’s just about the most calm month of the year. It brings with it such holidays as Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day.