13 Things to Ponder at Easter

by Deb on April 1, 2010

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Like any celebration that’s been around as long as Easter, there are lots of interesting snippets of lore associated with it.  I’ve tried to pick some that are a bit different and have a science slant, and it’s a good excuse for a bit of trivia.

The date of Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the March equinox.  So:

  1. The days of the week in English are based on the Norse and Roman gods and planets – Sun, Moon, Tiw (Norse), Wodan (N), Thor (N), Freyr (N) and Saturn (R).  A mix of classical and Viking/Saxon influences.
  2. The full moon is when the earth is between the sun and moon so the face of the moon turned towards us is in full daylight.
  3. There are two equinoxes a year, sometime on March 20/21st and September 22/23rd.  This is when the earth’s axis is not tilted away from the sun and it will be directly overhead on the equator.  It is the day that has roughly 12 hours of light and 12 of dark, hence “equal night.”
  4. The earliest date Easter can be is March 22nd, straight after the equinox, and the latest it can be is April 25th if the equinox is just after a full moon, then the next full moon is a Monday.
  5. Full moon

    Eggs are an ancient symbol of fertility for obvious reasons, but there are a few things I didn’t cover on Tuesday:

  6. A folk remedy for small cuts and grazes is to cover them with the shell membrane, so long as it’s washed it helps keep them clean because it’s surprisingly tough.
  7. ‘Double yolkers’ occur when there is a mistiming in egg production and two ova are caught in one egg shell.  Usually they cannot produce twin chicks because the chicks need to move around and get into the air cell to breathe, twins get in each other’s way and suffocate.  But a well timed ‘caesarean’ cutting open the egg has been known to save them.
  8. Double Yolks!

  9. Sometimes eggs are produced with no yolks, this can either be a young hen that hasn’t started ‘ovulating’ yet or it can be when a tiny piece of the reproductive tract breaks off and triggers the rest of the egg formation.
  10. Rabbits are another fertility symbol because they’re so, well, fertile.

  11. Rabbits are ‘induced ovulators,’ which means they don’t release eggs until after they have mated.  This means they don’t have a specific breeding season but will accept a mating most of the time, which is one of the reasons there are so many of them.
  12. Pregnancy lasts 31/32 days and they can be bred again when the babies are 4 weeks old.  That means they can potentially have a litter every 60 days!
  13. Twenty-four rabbits were introduced to Australia in 1859 to ‘remind people of home.’  By 1900 they were a plague and devastated agriculture and caused huge erosion problems, as they still do to today.  The Rabbit Proof Fence was built across WA to try to stop them getting in from the east, there were actually 3 fences that took 6 years to build and stretched 3253km or 2021 miles.  It didn’t work.
  14. Because rabbits are so destructive, Australians are encouraged to have the Easter Bilby instead of the Easter Bunny.

  15. Bilbies are a type of bandicoot, a marsupial.  Their pouch opens backwards to avoid getting dirt into it while digging and burrowing.
  16. Bilbies are well adapted to live in the Australian desert – they burrow down to where it’s cool, they are truly nocturnal, their large ears help lose heat and they don’t drink water – they get it from their food.
  17. Being a marsupial does not mean they are ‘not as advanced’ as placental mammals, it is actually a good adaptation for a harsh, unpredictable environment.  Bilbies and many other marsupials can breed all year round to take advantage of good food and water when it is available, and the small investment into the short pregnancy means the mother isn’t endangered if conditions turn bad again.  If conditions remain good, the babies continue to develop in the pouch as if they were still inside.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie April 1, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Great pieces of Easter trivia. No surprise they coined the phrase “breed like rabbits”
.-= Julie´s last blog ..Easter traditions – “Jesus is Alive” party =-.

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PlanningQueen April 1, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Some fantastic facts here Deb. Am going to talk to my kids about these, appreciate you taking the time to put them together.
.-= PlanningQueen´s last blog ..2010 Quarter 1 Review =-.

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Janet April 1, 2010 at 4:24 pm

I liked reading about the bilby!

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Shelley Munro April 1, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Interesting trivia. We have huge problems with rabbits here in New Zealand too.
.-= Shelley Munro´s last blog ..A Woman’s Work Is Never Done =-.

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amandab April 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm

A beautiful bilby story to read is “Hunwick’s Egg” by Mem Fox. I think it was originally an Easter project. Makes me cry, but Princess haslways loved it and we like to discuss all the other animals in it, not just the moral of the story. I won’t tell you what it is, in case you haven’t read it 🙂

Re the moon, thanks for that information. Princess was asking questions about it last night as it was very low in the sky and very yellow in colour. I am guessing the colour has something to do with proximity?
.-= amandab´s last blog ..A Walk in the Park =-.

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jehara April 1, 2010 at 5:28 pm

I liked learning about the bilbies too.
.-= jehara´s last blog ..snapshot: march =-.

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Hootin' Anni April 1, 2010 at 6:38 pm

This was extremely interesting. I never heard of saving an egg like that to produce ONE chick with the egg having two yolks.

My 13 is a bit of conversations of wit.

Hope to see you visit with me.
.-= Hootin’ Anni´s last blog ..…all in the family =-.

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Deb April 3, 2010 at 7:57 pm

I find it hard to imagine, but it was in several sources and I have an online friend who breeds chickens who tells me they’ve done it. It must be really difficult though.

And now I want to know how they breathe before they get into the air space! We get our oxygen through the placenta, what do they do?

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burn April 1, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Very interesting post. I happened to opened an egg with two egg yolks. I was confused then why does it happen. I thought that can only be happen to humans.
.-= burn´s last blog ..Thursday Thirteen # 1 =-.

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burn April 1, 2010 at 8:22 pm

I had a chance eating 2 eggyolks.
.-= burn´s last blog ..Thirteen things to do this April =-.

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CountryDew April 1, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Gosh, those 24 rabbits certainly did multiply. That was a fascinating fact.
.-= CountryDew´s last blog ..Thursday Thirteen =-.

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Tina April 1, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Love your T13! So much info, even the Bilby!
.-= Tina´s last blog ..Some running quotes for training motivation =-.

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Adelle Laudan April 1, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Awww aren’t Bilbies so darn cute lol.
I didn’t realize rabbits could be so destructive. Lost of interesting info here.
Happy Easter.
.-= Adelle Laudan´s last blog ..Happy Keester =-.

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Deb April 3, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Yep, I know there are some native rabbits in the US, but there’s nothing like it here. Most of our animals are adapted for the boom and bust so their numbers never get too big, the rabbits just took off! Now they’ve been here a bit longer it’s a bit more balanced, but our soil and ecosystems are extremely fragile. European style agriculture is very destructive here.

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Journeywoman April 1, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Wow. Great and interesting list!
.-= Journeywoman´s last blog ..Thirteen lyrics from movie songs =-.

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Heather April 2, 2010 at 4:18 am

Fascinating Easter post, Deb — lots of neat facts here. Thanks for visiting my book post!
.-= Heather´s last blog ..Thursday Thirteen 148: Recently Read =-.

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Annette April 3, 2010 at 7:10 am

How fascinating!
.-= Annette´s last blog ..A big week for jewellery =-.

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Melissa Mashburn April 3, 2010 at 11:08 pm

That was a great Thursday 13. Very interesting!
.-= Melissa Mashburn´s last blog ..I See Myself As Worthy =-.

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