Lesser Holidays

His Noodliness The Flying Spaghetti Monster
His Noodliness visiting a Chinese palace.

 

In addition to the High Holidays mentioned last week, there are also several Lesser Holidays in Pastafarianism.

The Unitarian Church of Pasta is proud to tell you about our holidays and traditions!

Lesser Holidays

There are three lesser holidays, and each are a week long. During these weeks, you should endeavor to think about the themes they celebrate as you go about your daily life. You do not have to take time off work, but it is encouraged. It is strongly encouraged if you can teach a child or even an adult something new about the theme of the holiday during your time off.

Science Week

Second Week of July

During science week The Flying Spaghetti Monster hopes that you will take time to learn about some of the great scientists who have helped to advance the human race. Celebrate the lives of those who have advanced knowledge and helped us to get where we are. There is a wonderful book by Stephen Hawking about how his discoveries were not made in a vacuum. It is called “On the Shoulders of Giants,” and it emphasizes how each step we take in discovery is made possible by all the humans who came before. We are all just links in a chain, and in science more than in most things, this is very important.

If you want, you can also study the obscure scientists. It can sometimes to be fun to read about the guys who didn’t exactly advance much, but they sure gave it their best shot. One such man is Ilya Ivanov, who artificially inseminated human volunteers with ape sperm to see if humans were close enough relations to produce offspring. This was back in the very early 1900’s, before we could have found out in a less hands on way by looking at DNA. He may not have advanced science much, but he sure did his best in spite of a lot of laughs from the population at large. Nice try, Dr. Ivanov.

A wonderful way to celebrate science week is to do science experiments with children, or adults who never got to do science experiments when they were young. This is important because some humans do not realize that science is something that they can do at home. They think of it as a thing that happens behind high walls with people who have access to expensive machines. This feeling of exclusion can cause a bitterness towards science and scientists. It is your job as a Pastafarian to try to teach people how science is accessible to everyone!

Fun Experiments

Make An Egg Float In Salt Water

What you need:

1. One Egg
2. Water
3. Salt
4. A Tall Glass

Instructions:

1. Pour the water into the glass until it is about half full (or half empty- if you prefer.)
2. Stir in a lot of salt. A bunch. Maybe six tablespoons. Really mix it up.
3. Carefully and slowly, add plain water to the glass until it is almost full (try to “float” the fresh water on top. If you like, you can use a spoon and pour it over the back of the spoon so it goes in more smoothly.)
4. Gently lower the egg into the water and watch what happens.

Results:

Salt water is more dense than fresh water, so the fresh water will float on top of the salt water. If you lowered the egg in carefully, it should have dropped through the fresh water and then floated in the salt water.

Lesson:

There are several lessons here. One is that different fluids can have different specific gravities (or, less dense liquids float on more dense liquids.) Another lesson is that things can float more easily in a liquid that is denser. (The egg would not float in fresh water, but it will float in salt water.) These are neat science concepts that you can see for yourself, so you know that they are true!

Note: For adults who drink alcohol, you can also teach about the density of liquids by looking up layered shots and making some of those. This demonstrates science and gives you an excuse to drink, which can add fun to any holiday.

Blow Up A Balloon With Science!

What you need:

1. A balloon
2. About 40 ml of water (for reference, a cup is 250 ml)
3. Soft drink bottle
4. Drinking straw
5. Juice from a lemon
6. 1 teaspoon of baking soda

Instructions:

1. Before you begin, make sure that you stretch out the balloon really well to make it easier to inflate.
2. Pour 40 ml of water into the soft drink bottle.
3. Add the teaspoon of baking soda and stir it with the straw until it has dissolved.
4. Pour the lemon juice in and quickly put the stretched balloon over the mouth of the bottle.

Results:

If all goes well, the balloon should inflate. This is because the lemon juice and the baking soda create a chemical reaction. The baking soda is a base, while the lemon juice is an acid. When the two combine, they create carbon dioxide (CO2). The gas rises up from the soft drink bottle and into the balloon.

Lesson:

First, this helps to introduce the PH scale and can be cool to do for adult during a safety briefing about not mixing things together. Restaurant kitchens can often have lye or bleach, which are bases. However, they also often have ammonia, (found in things like toilet cleaners.) When these two are mixed together it is a more severe reaction than the lemon juice and baking soda, and creates a toxic gas that can kill people.

Our experiment blowing up a balloon was not dangerous, but other chemicals that people mix can be. This demonstration can teach kids about chemical reactions, but it can also teach adults about chemical safety. That is important because chemical safety is a serious issue that we should all be educated about, and often schools do not teach this.

Also note that this teaches about the difference between liquids and gasses. Liquids are denser, so that in an enclosed space like the bottle and balloon, the liquid can all fit and the balloon can still not be blown up. However, in a gas, the atoms get more excited and expand. This means that the same space (still the inside of the bottle and the inside of the balloon) is no longer big enough for the same amount of atoms without filling the balloon up.

Make a Toy

What you need:

1. A bottle of baby oil
2. Food coloring
3. A bottle of water
4. A bottle, preferably decorative in nature

Instructions:

1. Decide on a color that you like, and mix it with the water.
2. Pour this into the decorative bottle.
3. Add oil until completely full (make sure not to leave any air.)
4. Add the lid, and then turn the bottle from side to side.

Results:

You will find that even if the oil seems to mix with the water, it will separate again. This is because the water and the oil have different densities, and so they cannot mix properly. They will stay separate as you turn the bottle upside down or move it side to side.

Lesson:

This is a neat way to examine waves, because different types of motion will create different types of waves. If you are doing it with children, it is probably best to wait to explain fluid dynamics until they are a little older. However, it is still a good example of varying density, like the egg experiment.

Note: For adults who enjoy recreational drugs (which the FSM is fine with in safety and moderation) this is a fun “trip toy” that can enhance any experience and help a stressed-out person relax and think of calming ocean waves or smoothing ripples in a pond.

Do more

There are literally thousands of cool ways to demonstrate scientific principles. A few examples never hurt anyone, but remember, fortune favors the curious! Seek out books or websites about other fun experiments that you can do, which will help teach about different scientific principles.

To get the most out of these experiments, it is very important that you talk about the science behind them with your children or friends. If you don’t talk about the science, then it is just an activity with no purpose. So, look up cool facts to go with each experiment you try. That you can really bring the science to life!

There are many stories that can bring various aspects of science to life, and all of them cannot fit in this simple bible. Picking a favorite took some time, but the story that won out was actually not about specific gravity or chemistry at all.

Gather around and hear about the story of how a man figured out that the Earth was round 2,200 years ago, long before cars and space stations and airplanes.

Note: If you meet a person who believes in the “Flat Earth Theory,” this would be the story to tell them. And, you can do the experiment if you have two people in different places, two sticks, and cell phones! Wouldn’t it be fun to prove them wrong and show them why they were wrong? Perhaps you could change someone’s life by setting them off on the path to science!

The Story of The Round Earth

Eratosthenes lived in the 3rd century B.C. in Egypt. He was a curious guy, and he lived in the city of Alexandria. Actually, he was curator of the Library of Alexandria, (probably one of the most amazing libraries that ever existed.)

Anyway, he found a passage in a book he was reading about the way the sun behaved in the city of Syene; an outpost far to the South of Alexandria. It described shadows getting shorter and shorter, until finally there were no shadows at all and the sun was directly overhead, exactly at midday on June 21st (the longest day of the year.) There was even a well which always seemed to be in shadow, but on that day, the sun reached the water at the bottom.

Eratosthenes was a curious human, and so he decided to perform this same experiment in his own home. On June 21st, he took a stick and waited for midday. He was surprised to find that in Alexandria, the stick did cast a shadow at midday.

It seemed unlikely that the account from Syene was a lie. There was no reason for someone to lie about such a small detail. Therefore, he assumed that there had to be another reason for this difference. It occurred to him that if the Earth was round, the sun would hit different parts of the land at different angles.

This is called a Hypothesis. A scientist has an idea, and they form it into a sentence that makes a testable statement. Once Eratosthenes had a hypothesis, he had to devise a way to test it.

Hypothesis: The Earth is round, and this accounts for shadows being different lengths at the same time to the North and the South of me.

First, Eratosthenes went to the tall tower in Alexandria and measured the angle of its shadow at noon. This turned out to be 7.2 degrees. He imagined a triangle that went from the center of the Earth to Syene, and then to Alexandria. Conveniently, 7.2 degrees is 1/50th of a full circle (50 X 7.2 degrees = 360 degrees.) Eratosthenes understood that if he could determine the distance between Alexandria and Syene, he would then be able to multiple that distance by 50, and he would know the full circumference of the Earth!

This is where it gets funny. See, Eratosthenes was a librarian and not really the kind of guy to walk 500 miles. So, he actually paid a guy to do it for him. Imagine how that conversation went.

Once he had the measurement, he actually determined the size of the Earth to within either 1% or 16% of actual size, depending on which account you believe. Either way, that is pretty amazing for someone who lives 2,200 years ago, way before cell phones and satellites!

Final Thought

Science week isn’t just about telling the stories of our favorite scientists throughout time, and doing experiments. It’s also a great time to give thanks for how far humans have come as a species. From cave-dwelling creatures who didn’t know how to farm or have a written language to cell phones and space ships. And remember, those advancements came from all over the world. The Chinese figured out gun powder. The Middle East is where Geometry and Algebra came from. Greece came up with democracy. Native Americans were masters of nature and story-telling.

The point is, every continent of the world has come up with wonderful things. Humans are delightful and inventive and clever, and all kinds of humans have contributed to where we are now. So, take a week to think about how all of humanity advances together, and how human cooperation is what has brought the species to where it is now.

Space Week

First week of December

As you have read, The Flying Spaghetti Monster is originally from space. He has been here since the Big Bang, and he was once a being of pure energy. Before he settled on Earth and made it His Project, He used to love being out among the stars and seeing all the different planets. It is His wish to go back, but He wishes to do it with humans. It is for this reason that He has declared Space Week a holiday, and that he hopes to encourage humans to Build More Space Ships. One of his greatest aspirations for humanity is that they will end up exploring space with Him at their side.

What can you do to celebrate space week?

1. Watch Star Trek

It should be noted that The Flying Spaghetti Monster is a big Star Trek fan. He’s not sure how he feels about where the franchise has gone in modern times, but he loved the old stuff from Kirk through Voyager. This is because Star Trek portrays a type of society that he feels would be ideal for humans. Exploring space, making friends with the other intelligent life out there, and generally learning to behave better. His Noodliness thinks that watching Star Trek, (particularly TNG) would be one fine way to celebrate Space Week. His Noodliness is also partial to Firefly, but you can watch anything having to do with space and he will be pleased.

2. Read About Space

The main goal of Space Week is to encourage children to go into Astronomy, Aerospace Engineering, and other fields that involve exploring space. A great way to do that is to give them books about space that they can read, so they can begin to get an interest for the subject. The Flying Spaghetti Monster suggests giving kids copies of “Contact” by Carl Sagan. This will encourage them to start looking through telescopes at stars, and thinking about space.

3. Teach About Space Missions

It should be noted that The Flying Spaghetti Monster has followed the Voyager One Space Probe since it was launched, and he thinks Space Week is a great time to talk to kids about what its mission was, and how much more it has accomplished. His Noodliness has watched all the missions to space that humans have undertaken, and hopes that parents will take this time to teach their kids about the Moon Landing, The International Space Station, and SpaceX.

4. Make Space Art

One of the best ways to inspire humans to dream about space is to make art. Have children draw funny aliens. Write science fiction about what you imagine first contact with be. Write poems about how you feel on a dark night when you look up and see the galaxy rise. Make music and movies and write new stories about space. If you happen to be a teacher, maybe get the leeway to make alien costumes and have the children put on a play. Just get inspired by the vast open spaces of the final frontier, and get creative.

5. Write Letters

Space Week is a good time to remind the government of your country that you care about humans going to space. Write letters to the leader of your government, and tell them that you are interested in space, and you want your government to have a space plan (or if they have a space plan, that you want it to get more funding.) Tell them that you want to see more STEM education, and that your hope your country will fund research into new out-of-atmosphere propulsion technologies. This is not really a political agenda, because it does not favor any one system of government of theory of government. The idea is to just make sure that all the people in your government can agree on this issue, even if they fight about everything else.

Final Thought

Space Week is mostly about inspiring people to dream. You can do this in any way that suits you. The Flying Spaghetti Monster suggests ways to celebrate the holidays, but it’s okay to get creative.

Earth Week

Third Week Of April

This is a holiday of paramount importance. The Earth is such a rare thing. There are a lot of star and a lot of planets, but very few of them can sustain life. Earth is a beautiful gem in a universe that is very exciting, but most filled with unconscious matter. Being conscious matter that is not only alive, but with a mind, is a stroke of luck that few worlds ever see.

Since humans have been lucky enough to be on one of the worlds where a spark of life happened, they are extremely precious. If humans were extinguished, then one of the most elegant creations of the universe would be destroyed. This is one of the reason that Space Week matters (because we want to diversify the planets that we are on.) However, it is also the reason that it is imperative for humans to protect Earth.

How To Celebrate

1. Learn About Earth

During Earth Week, watch things with David Attenborough in them. Take some time to learn about the different climates and the different life that resides in them. All plants and animals that evolved on Earth are unique. It is the job of humans, who have the highest degree of sentience, to care for the lesser life forms.

2. Enjoy The Earth

If you can, this is the ideal time to travel or just take a short road trip. Explore some of your world! If you are unable to travel, then at least go out in your own back yard and explore the animals and plants that live there. The FSM particularly enjoys feeding ducks. He asks that you remember that bread is bad for ducks, and instead feed them corn, lettuce, peas, oats, or seeds.

3. Teach Others

However, it’s not just about enjoying the Earth; it’s also about teaching! If you have children, tell them about how to be a responsible human and reduce the amount of pollution. Maybe watch Al Gore’s movies or some other documentaries. Then take your children into nature so they can make the connection that conservation means protecting real things. If you do not have children, barrow any that it might be appropriate to borrow (a niece of nephew, for example) and teach them.

4. Take Action To Protect Earth

You are also highly encouraged to write letters to your government demanding that they protect natural areas as parks, and that they invest in clean energies. It is very important to be involved in government, and particularly in terms of conservation, your leaders will always have voices in one ear telling them to approve a mine or build a boarder wall instead of protecting an animal or a plant. That means that your voice must be louder than those voices, so that you can drown them out.

5. Remember That Pasta Comes From The Earth

Eat pasta, and in your prayer before eating, focus on realizing that pasta comes from the Earth. All the food that humans get comes from the resources of the Earth, and if there is not a focus on replenishing those resources, then humans run the risk of dying out as a species. That would make The Flying Spaghetti Monster very upset, so it must not be allowed to happen.

Leftovers

The take away here is that the lesser holidays are all about helping other humans learn the importance of science, going to space, and protecting the Earth. These are some of the most important goals in Pastafarianism. It is up to those who know to educate those who don’t know, as it has always been. It is not an easy job, but it is important. Your efforts will help to ensure a future for humanity, and that is the best thing a human can do. As conscious sacks of meat, humans might be the most interesting and special life in the universe. That makes them worth preserving no matter what.

 

 


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