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20th December 1998

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Junior Times

Hello children,

A very happy Christmas to you all. You must have wrapped up all the gifts and posted the cards. If you have no cash to buy cards as they are expensive try making your own.

Here's how you do it - take some of your old cards, cut the covers out and paste them on Bristol board. Fold it and write your own verse, and you can be sure that it will be appreciated.

While you enjoy Christmas don't forget those who are unable to celebrate it, and also the old and lonely. Try and visit the aged, for they need company .

So have a jolly, happy Christmas all of you, and don't forget to write in with all the news.

Until next time
Aunty Sunshine

Front Page

Hungry and lonely at Christmas

I walk on the never-ending streets,
And into the windows I peep,

I see happy families eat delicious food and sweets,
I sigh and cry as I have nothing to eat.

I see the beautiful Christmas tree,
Surrounded with many presents.

But no one cares for me,
They just count me as a poor peasant.

My loving parents are with Jesus,
I long to join them too!

My life has been torn into tiny pieces,
But what am I to do?

Thamali Jayasinghe
Lyceum International School

I will always miss you

All the fun I had in class
Will blow with the winds as they pass
All the time we spent together
Will blow with the wind and disappear

I will miss you - all my friends
And I'm sure you will miss me as well.
But I will never forget anyone ever
Because, you were so close and sincere

I know it is much that we shared
But it was a great time in life
I will never forget my past
As my love, which will always last.

I wish that all my friends
Will do all work without a mess.
To find success in all that you face
As I stop with this little phrase.

Dulani Vithana
Visakha Vidyalaya

Education is the key

Education is the key to success. A man without an education is far from complete. A nation can never develop if its youth are not educated.

Fazna Fasi
St. Anne's Girls' School

Christmas Day

Today is Christmas Day. Snow is falling. Now we can make a snowman. But it is very cold outside. So we must wear warm clothes. I like to say, "Merry Christmas to you all."

Maduka Jayasinghe
Lyceum International School

Recalled to life

The prison walls in front of me
Will shine for thee, even in this darkness
The clock chimes midnight, while I wait
Wait - for my escape from imprisonment

The hoot of the owl echoes through the town
Footsteps I hear with cries and shouts
Gunshots rise, just from nowhere
While the door is broken and forced open

Staggering I am, running for freedom
Freedom indeed, in the midnight hour
While screams rise, more gunshots are heard
Blood is shed, here and beyond

The cab is drawn to take me off
Where I will be safe forever
'Freedom, freedom', here at last
Thank God Thee, for this worthy escape

The moon shines bright in the night sky
Whispering trees whisper much louder
The blowing breeze dances to and fro
Oh! How sweet are the fruits of this freedom

Just as I slumber in the first light of liberty
An old inquiry, from the dark young man
'I hope you care to be recalled to life?'
Softly I reply, 'Yes, I think so'

Dineshi Nanayakkara
Mahamaya Girls' College Kandy

Stamp News 46

The feast of Christmas

By Uncle D.C.R

With the advent of the Christmas season, let's talk about Christmas stamps.

The origin of Christmas stamps is a fascinating story. It dates back to the last century. In fact, it was exactly a hundred years ago that the first Christmas stamps were issued. The country was Canada, then a British colony. In December 1898, the Canadian Post Office reduced their imperial rate from three to two cents. The Postmaster General at the time (his name was William Mulock) himself designed a stamp to commemorate the occasion. It showed a map of the world with the British Empire in red. Below the map was the caption, 'XMAS 1898'. The words 'WE HOLD A VASTER EMPIRE THAN HAS BEEN' appeared at the bottom. On top was marked 'CANADA POSTAGE.' Stamp

It was planned to issue the stamp on November 9, which happened to be the birthday of the Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Victoria, the British sovereign at the time. (Queen Victoria was queen from 1837 until her death in 1901. She was married to Prince Albert and had nine children). The story goes that when a court official told Queen Victoria that a stamp was being issued on the Prince's birthday, she suspiciouly asked "Which Prince?" The courtier saved the situation by replying, "Why ma'am, the Prince of Peace." And so the issue of the stamp was delayed till December 7.Stamp

The first stamps issued specifically for the postage on Christmas greeting cards appeared in Austria in December 1937. After the Second World War, Austria resumed the issue of Christmas stamps in 1948 appropriately celebrating the 130th anniversary of Silent Night. Hungary started issuing Christmas stamps in 1943 and it has been recorded that Cuba has been issuing stamps from 1951 onwards.Stamp

The first Commonwealth country to issue Christmas stamps was Australia. That was in 1957. Since 1961, Australia has been releasing a Christmas air letter too. From the first 4d stamp issued in 1957, Australian Christmas stamps have come a long way. They are now much more colourful and attractive. Interesting themes have been depicted. In 1971, Australia issued a 7c stamp in seven different colour combinations. In 1981 Christmas carols were included on stamps. Stamp

Britain adopted Christmas air letters in 1965 and Christmas stamps in 1966. In recent years, stamps issued in the UK have been very imaginative.

Paintings have been featured on Christmas stamps in many countries. 'Mother & Child,' in particular, has been a popular selection.

StampThe Church declared 1980 as the 'Year of the Family.' Marriage and family life formed the theme of the Bishops' Synod which took place in Rome in September that year. The theme was chosen because of the urgent need to meet the challenges to family life posed by issues like unemployment, cost of living, divorce, breakdown of traditional values and customs, population expansion and urbanisation. The 'Year of the Family' was the theme of two Christmas stamps issued in Sri Lanka that year.

Since 1987, the Philatelic Bureau has been issuing Christmas stamps every year.

The whole Christian world celebrates the Feast of Christmas every year, with people wishing each other God's blessings, giving each other gifts, sharing each other's happiness and sorrows, forgiving each other's faults and shortcomings, thus helping to build up a just society.

What is a mammal?

Mammals are warm- blooded animals with backbones whose young are fed on the mother's milk. They grow hair.

The platypus and echidna are the only two egg-laying mammals. Both live in Australia. This is also the home of the majority of pouched mammals, or marsupials, although a few marsupials are scattered through South America

. These two more primitive groups of mammals have been largely replaced by the modern placental mammals which are worldwide. Their young are fed inside the mother's body by the mother's blood through a filtre, or placenta. The babies are therefore born at a more advanced age than in other kinds of mammals.

Mammals range in size from the minute shrews to the giant blue whale. Different species lead very different kinds of lives, and are found below and on the ground, in trees, in water and in the air.

Being well adapted for a particular lifestyle is very important when it comes to searching for food. Usually, the main differences are seen in the limbs and the teeth. In some mammals the legs are best suited for running, in others for hopping, yet others for burrowing, climbing, swimming and flying.

Teeth are used for nibbling, chewing or for tearing flesh. Whether a mammal eats mainly plant or animal matter shows in the kind of teeth it has.

Because mammals are warm-blooded and covered in hair, they can live in cold as well as hot countries. To avoid freezing or overheating they behave differently. They keep more active in polar regions, since exercise increases body heat. Polar animals are also more thickly furred. On the other hand, in the tropics, large mammals like the elephant and hippo have naked bodies so as to lose heat more rapidly. Some mammals lose heat by perspiring, as we do. Dogs pant in order to lose heat.

Choice of food

Mammals can be carnivorous, herbivorous or omnivorous. A few types are scavengers, feeding on dead remains. However, with the exception of some specialized feeders, such as the Australian koala and the South American three-toed sloth which eat only certain leaves, most mammals will eat what is available if they have to.

The food canal in herbivores is usually much longer than in carnivores since plant food is more difficult to digest. Some mammals have stomachs with several compartments which break down the plant food more easily.

Others, like rabbits, are helped by bacteria and other organisms which break down the food in their intestines.

Types of mammal

The largest group of mammals are the rodents, or gnawing mammals. Their incisor teeth are curved and chisel-shaped for nibbling. They have no canine teeth. Squirrels, rats and mice, and porcupines are all rodents.

Rabbits and hares, although they also gnaw food, belong to a separate group of mammals. They have an extra pair of incisors in the upper jaw, long ears and long hind legs.

Carnivores include dogs and cats, weasels, hyaenas, mongooses, bears, raccoons and pandas. Most eat only meat, but some, like bears and badgers, are omnivorous, and pandas are mainly vegetarian, eating bamboo shoots.

Some mammals, like seals, walruses and manatees, are specially built for swimming. The whale family and its smaller cousin, the dolphin, are even more expert swimmers. They are not able to live on land.

Mammals called edentates include anteaters, sloths and armadillos in their numbers. They are only found in South America, and feed mainly on insects and grubs. There are two groups of ungulates, or hooved mammals. One group has an odd number of toes, like horses, zebras and rhinoceroses. The other group is even toed and includes the large deer and antelope families, pigs and hippos, various cattle, sheep and goats, as well as camels and giraffes. Some ungulates are ruminants and can chew the cud.

Ungulates usually live in herds and are plant-eaters with strong molar teeth for chewing. The canine teeth are small or totally absent.

Bats are mammals which rival a bird's skill at flying. Their fore limbs have long fingers to provide a framework for the wings. Mostly they fly at night, hunting insects.


The last group of mammals are the primates. They consist of lemurs and bush-babies, monkeys, apes and man. All of them have grasping hands for holding and climbing. Although some are strict vegetarians, others eat more varied food and are omnivorous. Primate teeth are less specialized than those of other mammals. Ends

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