Mar 31, 2021 Episode 40
Spring celebrations, Spain’s 4-day week, pollution eating plant, NASA’s breath box and crazy candy! Which story will fool you?
Happy Holi, Happy Easter and April Fools’! Hear about Spring celebrations, Spain’s 4-day week, the cotoneaster pollution-eating plant, NASA’s breath box on Mars and crazy Easter candy! Five unbelievable stories – four are totally true, but one will April Fool you!
OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Jacuzzi!”
LEELA: Hello and happy Holi, happy Easter AND April Fool’s!
I’m Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and this is my sidekick and mama…
MAMA: Hello, hello… I’m Lyndee Prickitt.
LEELA: It’s a whirlpool of unbelievable news, information and festivities this week on Newsy Jacuzzi.
So we’ll start with the spring festivals and see how they’re celebrated.
We’ll also hear some big news from Spain, which is trying out a FOUR-day work-week. Yep, that means more home-time for mom and dad, or, I should say, maMA and paPA.
And did you know about the special “breath box” tucked inside the Perseverance Rover? You won’t believe what its mission on Mars is.
Talking about crazy and Easter… A bush called cotoneaster practically performs magic on roadside pollution..
Finally, move over buttered popcorn jelly beans and barbecue-flavored Paydays… There’s a new range of “fast-food Easter eggs” that will blow you away!
Oh, and did we mention it’s April Fool’s this week – got any tricks up your sleeves? We do!
So let’s kick it all off with…
BIG NEWS STORY STING – LEELA: “The big news story of the week!”
MAMA: So, Leela, the cold, dark days of winter are behind us. Spring is in the air and that means…
LEELA: Easter candy!
MAMA: Ahemmmm. It means it’s time to celebrate.
LEELA: With… Easter candy!
MAMA: Hold on there, girlie! You’re in India! Spring is about color here!
LEELA: Oh, my goodness, I’m so silly! Happy Holi, everyone!
MAMA: Exactly. And, for our listeners who might not know, what Holi is – spelt h-o-l-I, by the way, please explain
LEELA: Well, on one hand it’s a Hindu celebration marking the divine love of Lord Krishna and Radha, as well as the triumph of good over evil AND the arrival of spring. That’s why it’s called the “festival of love,” the “festival of spring” AND the “festival of color.” But I call it color chaos! Because everyone throws colored powdered all over each other. Even water balloons and spray guns are filled with colored water. It’s completely crazy.
MAMA: It’s pretty spectacular, it is true. Kinda like spring – plants bursting to life, flowers budding with just about every color on earth. It’s pretty symbolic if you think about it. Which brings us to Easter.
LEELA: (sings) And candy.
MAMA: (laughs) Can we do the serious stuff first please? So most people probably know, that after Christmas, Easter is the biggest Christian holiday. It marks the resurrection – or coming back to life – of Jesus Christ, three days after he was crucified, or killed, by Roman soldiers.
LEELA: Two-thousand years ago!
MAMA: Almost. Of course long before that people were celebrating the arrival of spring, so it’s no surprise many of the folk or Pagan traditions of spring festivals blended into Easter. Which, by the way, some people think is named after Ēostre or Ostara, the Pagan goddess of spring. Either way – the new life, spring theme is clear. And Christians would say Jesus represents the dawning of a new way. Hence – the egg.
LEELA: Uhhh, how did you get to that?
MAMA: Well, new life comes from an egg.
LEELA: Ah. But the fancy decorations and yummy chocolate bit?
MAMA: Ah! Well, that’s interesting. Decorated Easter eggs were first recorded in the 13th century. You see, the church didn’t allow people to eat eggs the week before Easter, known as Holy Week. But, of course, the chickens didn’t get the memo. They continued to lay eggs.
LEELA: Extra eggs for all.
MAMA: Since the eggs came during Holy Week, people thought they were pretty special. So they’d decorate them.
LEELA: Cool. And… the chocolate bit?
MAMA: Well, I think in the last few hundred years, if you wanted to make anything special and fun – you turned it into something sweet.
LEELA: Still, the big question is… why is it an Easter Bunny that gives out eggs? I mean, I know a LOT of bunnies are born in spring, so I see the connection there. But rabbits don’t lay eggs. So why the Easter Bunny and not the Easter Chicken?
MAMA: I know, right! Well, the encyclopedia skips over that. But some have speculated it came from that Goddess of spring Ostara, the German version is said to have transformed a bird into a rabbit, giving it the magical ability to lay colorful eggs. But it’s just a theory.
LEELA: Well, I’ll take it. And I’ll take some chocolate eggs and other Easter candy in my Easter basket from the magical Easter bunny too!
MAMA: Oh, yeah. And a new Easter dress. That’s what we always got on Easter morning. Not from the bunny though. Usually my mother was up all night sewing them!
MAMA: Yep. Don’t expect that. Though we usually host a big Easter Egg hunt, don’t we?
LEELA: We sure did (well, before the nasty old coronavirus stopped us!) because tradition has it that the Easter bunny comes early in the morning to hide eggs for children to find. Usually candy eggs, of course.
MAMA: Of course! Though different families have different traditions.
LEELA: Right. Let’s hear how our US correspondents, Andrew and his sister Alina, in Maryland, celebrate Easter.
ALINA: Thanks, Leela. We like making rescurrection cookies and hearing the story about why Jesus died on the cross for us. We lock the cookies in the oven when we’re done. Then the next day they’re ready to eat and hollow inside – just like Jesus’ tomb.
ANDREW: Also we enjoy hunting to for Easter Eggs. Our Dad hides them outside. It’s really fun and there are cool toys and candy inside. Reporting from Silver Spring, Maryland, this is Andrew.
ALINA: And Alina.
ANDREW AND ALINE: For Newsy Jacuzzi!
LEELA: Thanks, you guys. And happy Easter. Of course next up on this packed calendar is April Fools… Tell me who started this wonderful trickster tradition.
MAMA: Well, in the spirit of being a fool – I don’t know. But I’m not alone. No one really knows, in fact. The tradition of playing practical jokes or hoaxes on people and then fessing up by saying, “April Fools!” goes back for several centuries by different cultures, though when and where it first began remains a mystery.
MAMA: So one of the other great things about a public holiday, like Easter, is that you get a looong weekend.
LEELA: In other words, a short school week!
MAMA: Or work week, for the adults. And it’s blissful, isn’t it?
LEELA: Yes, ma’am. Just hanging out by the waterside, sippin a soda…
MAMA: Yeah, if only. Or just going for a walk in the fields.
LEELA: That works.
MAMA: Basically, it’s great to have a reboot.
LEELA: To recharge our batteries.
MAMA: Well, what if we could get that all the time…
LEELA: Excuse me?
MAMA: A long weekend, EVERY weekend.
LEELA: Oh, yeeeeaaaah!
MAMA: Well, that’s just what’s happening in Spain!
MAMA: Our Barcelona correspondent, Nina Granena, is standing by to tell us more.
NINA: When it comes to workers’ rights, Spain is kind of like the expert.
On April 3rd, 1919,
Spain became the first country ever to work 8 hours a day.
And now, the government wants to make even more changes.
Normally, most jobs are Monday through Friday.
That’s five days.
But they want to make jobs Monday through Thursday.
That’s four days.
They say it would help Mom and Dad be less stressed out
And it would help companies save money.
For now it’s a try-out program.
The government will make a decision soon.
And who knows, it COULD mean four days of school for us kids!
That’s what I’m talking about!
In Barcelona this is Nina Granena for Newsy Jacuzzi!
LEELA: Thanks, Nina. Mama? When do we move to Spain?
MAMA: (laughs) Yeah….
MISC – COTONEASTER
LEELA: So, speaking of Easter – you won’t believe the benefits of a bush called cotoneaster.
MAMA: Cotoneaster? Do Easter eggs grow from it…?
LEELA: Uhhh, no. But that would be super cool.
MAMA: Wouldn’t it? OK, ummm… Is it a plant that’ll give me great skin?
LEELA: Mama! You’re getting off track. Actually, come to think of it, it could decrease some of the bad pollution effects on our skin…
MAMA: Hey! Awesome! Where do I buy it?
LEELA: More importantly, Mama, where do you plant it?
MAMA: Uhhh, OK.
LEELA: For more on this story let’s go to our environment correspondent, Amaira Mirza, who’s on the roadside in New Delhi.
SFX OF BUSY STREET
AMAIRA: Thanks, Leela. (Note: please project your voice loudly as if talking over traffic noises – but remember to hold your mic a little bit further from your face so the sound doesn’t muffle.)
It’s not only noisy on the streets of India, but it’s pretty polluted too.
Sadly, New Delhi is one of the most polluted cities on earth.
But a magical little bush, called cotoneaster, COULD come to the rescue.
SFX OF WALKING AND QUIETER OUTDOOR SOUNDS
Ahhh, much better.
Cotoneaster, which is related to the Hawthorn bush, is a dense shrub native to the Himalayas, just north of here.
In the spring and summer it’s covered with pretty little white or pink berries, which turn deep red in winter.
But most importantly its little leaves are rough and HAIRY!
Well, according to researchers at the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK, that makes them all the better to trap particulate matter – in other words, pollution!
It not only means there’s more surface areas for the pollution to sit on, but those rough ridges and plant hairs hang on to the nasty stuff too!
That means 20 percent less pollution blowing into our gardens and homes.
I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna start planting some now!
SFX OF DIGGING
In New Delhi I’m Amaira Mirza reporting for Newsy Jacuzzi!
WORLD WRAP STING – LEELA: “What’s that? I’ll tell you what. That’s the halftime bell! Which means… it’s time to hear what’s making news around the rest of the world. Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.”
I think I can, I think I can… yep, 13 tiny but strong tug boats and salvage crews used all their determination to help free a huge container ship that was trapped in Egypt’s Suez Canal for six days. That man-made canal is a vital little shortcut for ships that don’t want to sail all the way around Africa. The blockage had caused a traffic jam of 360 ships and massive delays in products being shipped around the world.
Garden party plans are helping push up retail sales in the UK, because after three months of lockdown, restrictions are being relaxed a bit. People in Britain are so looking forward to the holiday weekend, that sales of outdoor furniture are going up. Of course Britain’s notoriously bad weather might not play ball – as a cold snap, complete with the possibility of snow, is being forecasted.
And how’s this for a sweet incentive to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. The donut chain, Krispy Kreme is giving away free doughnuts in the US for the rest of the year – as long as you show a valid vaccination card. Yum! Except, health officials are warning people not to take advantage of the offer every day, cos a donut a day won’t keep a doctor away.
LEELA: Thanks for that whiz of world news… And now it’s time to take a deep breath for some of this…
SCIENCE STING – LEELA: “The world of wow, wow, wow… In other words – science!”
MAMA: So, Leela, random question for you.
MAMA: What do oceanographers need to study the ocean?
LEELA: Uhh, a swim suit?
MAMA: Well, yes, But I mean, if you want to explore underwater for hours, what do you need? Here’s a clue – (takes deep breath).
LEELA: Oh! Air! I mean, oxygen, scientifically speaking.
MAMA: Yes! Humans can’t live without air. And it’s the same story for astronauts exploring space.
LEELA: Naturally. That’s why they have bulky space suits with oxygen tanks.
MAMA: Or cords pumping oxygen to them from their spaceship. But, what if… oxygen could be produced ON MARS.
LEELA: Whoaaaa. Is that even possible?
MAMA: Well, let’s find out from our correspondent and news podcaster in his own right, Ezra Graham.
LEELA: Over to you, Ezra.
EZRA: Thanks, Leela.
So you might remember a few weeks ago when this happened…
SFX OF MARS ROVER LANDING
The Perseverance Rover landed on Mars to look for signs of ancient life.
But did you know what was also on board?
A special device, about the size of a breadbox, called: Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment – or MOXIE for short.
But I like to call it the “breath box.”
Because it’s about to start testing if it’s possible to make oxygen in situ, that means on site, using the local red planet resources.
Mars’s thin atmosphere is made up mostly of carbon dioxide, about 96 percent in fact.
Well, Moxie basically would act like a tree: inhaling carbon dioxide but exhaling oxygen.
How cool is that?
Instead of lugging the 100,000 pounds of oxygen needed from Earth to Mars, MOXIE would be able to produce oxygen directly on Mars.
Much more efficient.
That’s not all.
Moxie could also help to propel rockets.
Because when hydrogen and oxygen are mixed together, they create a powerful propellant used in many present day spaceships.
Wouldn’t it be easier if the oxygen was available on Mars?
That’s what Moxie’s on a mission to find out.
From Montana, USA, I’m Ezra Graham reporting for Newsy Jacuzzi!
LEELA: Thank you so much, Ezra.
MAMA: Who is also, by the way, the host of his own weekly news podcast, called News Nerds – so check it out!
ODDBALL STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? An odd ball, no doubt!”
LEELA: Hey, Mama?
MAMA: Hey, Leela!
LEELA: You know how there are some crazy candy flavors, that come out every now and then, just to like tickle our taste-buds?
MAMA: I guess so.
LEELA: I mean, America has a long history of some weird candy. Take the circus peanut. It’s shaped like a squashed, oversized peanut. But it’s orange. And it taste like a banana.
MAMA: I know, what’s up with that? But it’s so good!
LEELA: Oh, yeah. And then along came the buttered-popcorn jellybean from Jelly Belly. Which also has the Harry Potter-inspired range of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans – with Black Pepper, Dirt, Earthworm, Earwax and Booger flavours to name a few (yuuuck!).
MAMA: Ewwww, really?
LEELA: Oh, yeah – Google it. It’s a thing. Admittedly, it’s more of a gag gift. Gag as in a joke, but, you know, kind of also as in gag, like…
SFX OF FUNNY TUMMY
LEELA: And, less gaggy, but no less weird, Hershey came out with a BBQ-flavor PayDay candy-bar.
MAMA: Really? Actually, that sounds kinda, well, you know, I can see it.
LEELA: And it’s not just America – in Russia there’s a lobster-flavored candy and in Japan a wasabi KitKat! And now…
SFX OF DRUMROLL
A candy company from Chicago, Illinois has come out with a special batch of chocolate Easter eggs – that are fast-food-flavored!
MAMA: Fast-food? Are you serious?
LEELA: Oh, yeah. There’s the “perfect pepperoni pizza,” the “French fries surprise” – the surprise is a little spurt of sweet ketchup in the middle – and “the happy hamburger,” “tasty taco” and, not wanting to miss out the Asian market, the “super salmon sushi” Easter egg.
MAMA: Ewwwwph! Well, sushi lovers in Taiwan will like that one, I guess. So, uhhh, let’s try… Where’s mine?
LEELA: You’ll just have to wait and see if the Easter bunny brings you some or not!
FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…”
MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – Holi is the Hindu celebration marking the divine love of Lord Krishna and Radha, the triumph of good over evil AND the arrival of spring. That’s why it’s also called what?
Holi is called the “festival of love,” the “festival of spring” AND the “festival of color.”
LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – Some people believe Easter comes from what old word?
Many people think it’s named after the Pagan goddess of Spring, called Ēostre or Ostara.
MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – Spain is trying out a 4-day work week. This isn’t the first time the European country has broken new ground when it comes to workers’ rights. What did they do in 1919?
Spain became the first country to implement an 8 hour work day.
LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – What is the name of the red berry bush which has rough and hairy leaves that help it trap pollution 20 percent more pollution than other shrubs?
MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – A special box, called MOXIE, hitched a ride on the Perseverance Rover to see if it’s possible to create oxygen on Mars. Because the red planet’s thin atmosphere is made up mostly of what?
Mars’ atmosphere is 96 percent carbon dioxide.
LEELA: And don’t forget – you can take the fab fact quiz on our website: newsyjacuzzi.com, to check out how well you were listening.
LEELA: That brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Jacuzzi!!!!! Except…
LEELA AND MAMA: April Fools!
LEELA: (Sings) We got you!!!!
MAMA: Or did we? You see, all the stories on today’s episode were all pretty unbelievable, we have to admit. But only ONE was untrue.
LEELA: Can you guess which one? Drop us a line and tell us!
MAMA: And do it fast – we’ll read out the names of the first five listeners who got it right on next week’s episode.
LEELA: You can go to our website, newsyjacuzzi.com, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or let us know on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Go on – don’t be an April Fool!
We’ll see you next week in the Newsy Jacuzzi!