Mae's Real Stories

Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa and anyone else who would like to be here

Sunday, March 25, 2007


The Desert

In the Passover story Moses leads the Jewish people out of slavery in Egypt. We hear about Moses, Miriam, and all the Jewish people living in the desert after that. Here is a picture of the desert in modern times. The buildings are the ruins of an ancient desert city.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


The Passover Story

The Haggadah is a special book we read at the Passover Seder. The story of Passover is in the book, along with songs and tales. One tale is about a man named Elijah. He lived and died a long time ago, but people like to imagine that he is still walking on earth somewhere in a magical way. At the end of the Seder, we put a glass of wine on the table. Then all the children go and open the door to see if Elijah will come in and drink it. If he comes in, then it means the world will be peaceful: no war any more.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Passover Celebration

In the spring we celebrate the Jewish holiday called Passover. We have a special ceremony called a Seder, and we tell a story about Jewish history a long, long time ago. To tell this story, we have special food on the table. The picture shows the table from last year.

At the Seder, we tell the story of how the Jews were slaves in the land of Egypt in this long-ago time, and how Moses, their leader, helped them to escape. We celebrate freedom and the coming of spring.

Moses and all the people ran away from Egypt so fast that they didn't have time to bake bread, but ate a flat bread called matzoh. For the holiday of Passover, many Jewish people do not eat any other type of bread or crackers for 8 days, because they want to remember the story.

When the Jewish people were slaves, they had to work very hard making big buildings for the Egyptians. On the Seder plate is a special fruit jam called charoses that tastes very good.

Charoses looks like the mortar that holds a brick or stone building together, and we eat it to remind us of the lives of the Jewish slaves who worked on the buildings in Egypt.

The next special food is called "bitter herbs," or horseradish. This is a very bitter, sharp-tasting root. This taste makes all the people at the Seder remember the hard and "bitter" lives that the Jewish people had when they were slaves around 3000 years ago. They make us remember that freedom is a good thing.

One part of the Seder is to eat matzoh with some charoses and ground-up horseradish on it, and remember the bitter and the sweet parts of the story.

Salt water on the Passover plate makes us remember the tears that people wept when they were not free men and women.

The egg on the Passover plate reminds us that spring is here.
Parsley or other mild-tasting green herbs is also on the Seder table to remind us of spring. Another part of the Passover celebration is to eat egg with salt water and matzoh, and to dip the parsley in salt water.

Also on the Passover plate is a bone from a lamb. We also drink wine as we tell the story.

When Moses helped the Jews to escape, the first thing they did was to cross a big sea named the Red Sea. Here is the magical part of the story: the water of the sea opened up, and everyone could walk between the walls of water.

While they walked, Moses's sister sang and danced to help them on their way. Her name was Miriam, and she has an important part in the story. After all the Jews crossed the Red Sea and escaped from slavery, they lived in the desert for a long time. Miriam had a magic well so that wherever they went, they found water to drink. Even though the desert is a very dry place, Miriam's magic well was always with them.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Saint Patrick's Day

Next Saturday is a special day called Saint Patrick's Day. All over America and in some other countries people have parties or go out to lunch and dinner. Many Americans' ancestors came from Ireland, but everyone is welcome to celebrate with them. In New York a big parade celebrates Saint Patrick's Day.

Ireland is a beautiful country. Because it is rather warm there, with a lot of rain, the land is very green because there are so many plants. The most special green plant is called the shamrock. This is the special plant for Saint Patrick's Day, and is supposed to make you lucky. On Saint Patrick's Day, a lot of people dress in green clothes. Some restaurants color their food green. The silliest green food is green beer.

People have lived in Ireland for a very long time, and have built many kinds of buildings. When you drive around, you can see some buildings that are hundreds of years old, and other stone buildings that are thousands of years old. The first three pictures show stones that were put there by people thousands of years ago. The fourth picture shows a stone doorway from several hundred years ago. Arny and Tracy and I took these pictures a few years ago when we were all together in Ireland.

Many stories tell about various kinds of magic in Ireland. The round stone wall in the second picture is a very old well where people still come to take a drink of water. The well water is supposed to be magical.

Little men called leprechauns are part of the magic stories about Ireland. When it rains, sometimes you see a rainbow -- and remember, it rains a lot in Ireland. One story says that at the end of the rainbow the leprechauns hide a pot full of gold coins. They hope that someday they will find this pot of gold and be rich.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Kukulkan and Chocmal

We visited Chichen Itza, the most famous city of the Maya people in Mexico. They lived there about 1000 years ago, built beautiful buildings with many stone carvings, and then they all moved away.

About 90 years ago, people cleared away the jungle and built the buildings back the way they were long ago. As we walked around this big city, we saw many statues of a special snake with feathers named Kukulkan. His other name is Quetzelcoatl. Maya artists loved to make statues and pictures of him.

Here is Lenny at a big platform with another Kukulkan on it:
Maya artists also made pictures of another character named Chacmol, who had a funny long nose.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Rosita Fresita

Children in Mexico like many of the same stories and cartoons as children elsewhere. Here is Strawberry Shortcake: but in Spanish her name is Rosita.

We saw this big poster in the window of a store that sold all kinds of things for children: Sesame Street characters like Cookie Monster, Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, and many toys and games. It was in a big shopping center with lots of stores and restaurants.

In Mexico there are also open-air farmers' markets, old-fashioned markets with open stalls, streets with little shops, and many things that are not so much like the things in the United States.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Maya Children

The Maya people live in Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. They speak Spanish and also their own Mayan languages. Today some Mayan people live in big cities. Others live in small villages in the jungle. We visited some of the cities and villages where the Mayan people live. Some of the Mayans wear beautiful special dresses. Some dress just like Americans. They like to watch TV and play soccer. The children go to school near their homes.

In a Maya village that we visited, we met some children and mothers. The people there are poor. Here they are in front of a house with a palm-tree roof. It is never very cold because they live in the tropics, but they would like to have a house with concrete walls and a more solid roof. This family is building a better house next door, and soon they will move into it.
One little girl and her mother were showing us how they make tortillas. They were forming the dough with their hands, and then cooking the tortillas on an open fire. Their kitchen was out of doors behind the house.

Some other children were playing in back of the house.
Hundreds of years ago, before Europeans ever came to their country, the Maya people built huge cities. They cleared the trees away and made big buildings out of white stone. They carved beautiful pictures and writing on the walls of the city, and they also wrote books about their history. Then something happened (no one is sure exactly what), and the people moved away from the big Mayan cities. The jungle trees and vines grew back over the beautiful white buildings.

The first Europeans to arrive in the Maya's country were Spanish people who were looking for gold. The Mayans didn't have any gold, so the Spaniards didn't do much there. The big white cities stayed under the jungle, and the Mayans continued to live in villages and to cultivate their small farms. After a long time, people became very interested in the big cities in the jungle, and they cleared the trees away and put the stones back together. We also visited two of these ancient cities, which are very beautiful. Here is a famous building from hundreds of years ago:

In the city called Chichen Itza, we saw many Maya people. They come into the park through the jungle every day and many of them sell things that they make or that they get from other villages in Mexico. We saw woodcarvings, embroidered blouses, pottery, and other things. Some children come into Chichen Itza with their parents or grandparents.


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