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Sinterklaas / Saint Nicholas Day (December 5th)
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Sinterklaas is a Dutch/Belgian Children's festival that happens every year on December 5th. Traditionally, in mid-November, two weeks before his celebrated Feast Day, Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands by boat from his home in Spain. Coming with his white horse (Amerigo) he arrives in the Netherlands with his helpers, the Pieten (Peter), to signify the start of the holiday season. This Sinterklaas tradition is broadcasted live on television. Each year Sinterklaas arrives in a different city. During the two weeks before his birthday, Sinterklaas rides across rooftops at night on his white horse, listening through chimneys for good children and leaving them treats and sweets in their shoes. The build-up is to the eve before his Feast Day (Sinterklaasavond) on 5 December, when Sinterklaas delivers gifts to good children and coal to the naughty. On Sinterklaasavond, children anxiously wait for Sinterklaas to knock on their door. Although Sint usually flies by the time they answer, a sack full of gifts awaits them on their doorstep. Following Sinterklaas‘ visit, each member of the family takes turns handing out presents and unwrapping them. Names are printed on each gift, and almost every present is accompanied by a humorous poem about the gift’s recipient, sometimes teasing them about their good and bad habits. Families celebrate Sinterklaas‘ Feast by singing songs and indulging in a feast of their own, which consists mainly of sweets like marzipan, chocolate initials, pepernoten (ginger biscuits) and hot chocolate with whipped cream.
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[Australia] SAVE THE KOALA DAY (Sep 30)
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In 1986, two veterinary scientists established the Australian Koala Association. The name was later changed to the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF). On September 26th, 2008 the AKF held the first Save the Koala Day. Events for the special day were held at Dreamworld, a theme park, and zoo in Queensland. The AKF chose the last Friday in September as it coincided with Save the Koala Month Every year on the last Friday in September, Save the Koala Day raises awareness for the plight of the koala. It’s also a day to educate the public on the importance of conserving the koala’s natural habitat. Even though it’s called a koala bear, the koala isn’t actually a bear. Instead, the koala is a marsupial. This means that the koala is a mammal that carries its young in a pouch. In the late 18th century, English-speaking settlers in Australia called the animal a bear. These settlers thought the koala looked and behaved like a bear. Since then, many people call these animals, koala bears. Australia provides the only natural habitat in the world for the koala. Known as tree-hugging mammals, koalas live in eucalyptus trees. They grow up to 3 feet tall and weigh anywhere from 9 to 30 pounds. According to the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF), there are less than 100,000 koalas in the wild. Some believe this number is closer to 43,000 koalas. In 2012, the Australian government declared the koala as “vulnerable” in parts of Australia. The AKF feels the conservation status of the koala should be updated to “critically endangered.” Some reasons for the reduced number of koalas in Australia include bush fires, domestic dog attacks, and road accidents. One of the primary reasons for fewer koalas in the wild is the destruction of the eucalyptus forests.
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