Happy Chinese New Year, UK “blood rain,” Italian DNA “poop patrol”

Feb 14, 2024 Episode 173

Gong xi fa cai, everyone – or Happy Lunar New Year! Plus, what’s up with the UK’s “blood rain” and Italians use doggie DNA for “poop patrol!”

Episode Transcript


LEELA: This week… Happy Lunar New Year: Gong xi fa cai, everyone! Plus, what’s up with the UK’s “blood rain” and Italians use doggie DNA for “poop patrol!”

OPENING STING – LEELA: “Hey, hey, hey. Listen up. New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!” 


LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the news pool for curious kids and adults! I’m Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and, as ever, I’m joined by the big story explainer and sound effects finder – otherwise known as my… mother!

This week…

It’s time to usher in the Year of the… Dragon! We have a special report on the Chinese New Year. We’ll take a deep dive into the history of the Lunar New Year why animals are associated with each new year; and, of course, what being born in the Year of the Dragon represents.

But that’s not all!

We’ll have special reports from… wait for it… China, Taiwan AND South Korea from our team of kid correspondents on how their families celebrate the biggest event of their year.

Plus, find out what’s causing the “blood rain” in the United Kingdom and what the Sahara Desert dust has to do with it.

And hear Italy town is using DNA for a “poop patrol” to locate lazy pet owners.

Alrighty then, let’s dive on in. First up, it’s the…

BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”

MAMA: Well, it’s that time of year when a quarter of the world is getting ready to party.


LEELA: That’s right, Saturday February 10th will usher in the Year of the Dragon as Chinese New Year has begun.

MAMA: So, Happy new year to two billion people mostly in eastern Asia but also of course in “China towns’ all over the world to celebrate the new year based on the Chinese lunar calendar.

LEELA: As the name suggests, the lunar calendar is based on the cycle of the, wait wait for it, the moon, of course, and that’s why it’s not a set date.

MAMA: According to the Britannica Encyclopedia, the Chinese new year begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar

LEELA: As in a little sliver of a moon.

MAMA: Yep, this is also called the “Spring Festival” which goes on until first full moon 15 days later.

LEELA: And being the “Spring Festival” yes, that means there is a lot of spring cleaning. Fun!

MAMA: You sounded really sincere there with that fun, and actually this cleaning starts way in advance about ten days before the beginning of the new lunar year is a custom called “sweeping of the grounds.”


LEELA: The cleaning is said to remove any bad luck that might be hanging around inside…

MAMA: You got like the sounds of that, might give that a try. For more on how this holiday is being celebrated we have three correspondents this year. First, let’s cut across to our very senior Taiwan correspondent, Yuching Liu, who’s in the capital Taipei. And has been giving us these updates each year and its gonna do it again for the special year of the dragon.

LEELA: And did you know in Taiwan they were just clean but believe it or not poetry comes into play.

MAMA: Couplets, Infact, which are pair of six excessive back-to-back lines those rhymes

LEELA: These get printed out on pretty paper and hung up for decorations, but don’t take my word for it.Yuching over to you for the full celebration story.

YUCHING: Thanks guys. This year is the Year of The Dragon, and it’s associated with good wisdom, fortune, and success!

Before Chinese New Year starts, we will clean the house, buy new clothes, and firecrackers. Lastly, we hang up spring couplets.

We also stay up late during New Year’s Eve.

The way I celebrate Chinese New Year is by visiting my family and chatting while eating our reunion dinner.

The best part about it, though, is that we get red envelopes filled with money! They symbolize good wishes and luck for the new year.

Chinese New Year’s origin is a legend. This is the story most people in China and Taiwan know.

Thousands of years ago, a scary and mean monster named Nian would attack villagers at the beginning of each year. That monster was afraid of loud noises and bright lights, and especially the colour red.

The villagers all put up red papers on their doors, today we call them couplets, and lit firecrackers in the colour red outside their homes.

When the beast came to attack, all the firecrackers, bright lights, and red scared it away. After that, everyone was unharmed. People celebrated with their family and their friends! They had wonderful feasts, and everyone was happy.

So, thanks for listening everyone! Happy year of the Dragon! In Taiwan, this is Yuching for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Wow! Thanks, Yuching!

MAMA: Yeah, you gave us though whole back story according to Taiwan customs and now for even more on the Lunar New Year let’s go to a very young contributor Felicia Wong from Beijing. To get the flavour of celebrations on the mainland.

LEELA: But first Felicia do tell what year you were born in!

FELICIA: I was born in the year of the monkey.

I want to tell you how to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

We will decorate our home with red lanterns. We will do some shopping for food and flowers.

We spend time with family, visiting grandpas, grandmas, uncles, and aunties. I like to eat all the yummy things, dumplings, fish, and candies.

Happy New Year, Thank you.

LEELA: Oh, thank you so much, Felicia!

MAMA: Yeah. That was so great. Really sweet! Now, let’s get still another perspective on the Lunar New Year from our Korean correspondent.

LEELA: That would be Go on, give us the Korean take on the New Year. I bet it has a lot to do with food. I hope it does.

YEONWOO: Basically, we eat rice cake soup called the white soup means that wash out bad memories from last year and having good memories only in the new year.

Also, the long rice cakes mean a long life. Tradition game is that we play Yunluri. It is a game that we use four wooden sticks to play.

The four wooden sticks are marked, and the team that moves the chips according to the 4 marked that you throw the wins again. Is one of the biggest holidays in Korea, and it is a special day for many families to get around after a long time.

LEELA: Well, thank you so much, Yeonwoo.

MAMA: Yeah. That was great. Thanks a lot, team. It was great to get a roundup of the celebration. And with that, here’s to the year of the dragon. So, Leela.

[SOURCE: https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/61505791https://english.cw.com.tw/article/article.action?id=3592#:~:text=Lunar%20New%20Year’s%20Eve%20in,hot%20pot%20symbolizing%20family%20reunion]

LEELA: So, mama.

MAMA: You’ve heard of blood roses, blood oranges…

LEELA: Yes, because of the rich, deep, well, bloody COLOR of those things.

MAMA: Right. But have you heard of blood rain?


LEELA: I really hope that’s also because of the colour of the rain and nothing more sinister.


MAMA: Oh, just kidding! Yes, let´s make that very point clear. Blood rain is whether call it when a bunch of coloured sand or dust particles gets mixed up with the rain clouds. It creates a spooky, red, blood-like appearance when it falls. I mean, it’s probably stunning sunsets, but kind of a little crazy when you think about it.

LEELA: Oh, that is so wild! Is that like some desert phenomenon or something in North Africa.

MAMA: Well, no. It is not happening in North Africa. It’s happening in the United Kingdom.

LEELA: What!

MAMA: But Africa does have something to do with it. A huge dust cloud from the Sahara Desert has drifted way up north towards Britain and basically blended in with the clouds. And so, whenever it rains, the sky has been turning a reddish sunset colour.

LEELA: Even in the middle of the day?

MAMA: I think so.

LEELA: Pretty! I’d love to see that!

MAMA: And then – get this – when it dries, a layer of red dust is left coating everything.

LEELA: Ah, yes. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn´t something like this happens like this in India once? In 2001 in the southern state of Kerala?

MAMA: It did indeed! The blood rain was so strong that everyone’s shirts were actually stained dark red!

LEELA: Wow! So, like, free tie-dye from Mother Nature! I love it!

MAMA: Yes! That’s looking on the bright side, I guess.

LEELA: I get it. Oh, gosh. No one did your best. I I could maybe do better, but I don’t wanna go down the British swearing route for the sake of a pun.

MAMA: The British swearing oh, No! No! No. Please don’t…

[SOURCE: https://www.gbnews.com/weather/uk-weather-blood-rain-saharan-plume


ODDBALL STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? An oddball, no doubt!”

LEELA: Oh, this is odd, but interesting, I’d say. A story that’s a real scoop, if if you know what I mean.

MAMA: Oh, tell me more.

LEELA: Nope – not me this time. For this curious case of the dog whose owner doesn’t clean up after it… we have to have to Italy.

MAMA: Oh, oh. I think then we’ll be hearing from our lovely correspondent in Rome, Ananya Kazmin.

LEELA: You got it. Over to you, Ananya!

ANANYA: Thanks, Leela!

Italians really, really love their dogs – so much so that you can see dogs with their owners everywhere – in shops, in restaurants, on the buses, even in the pharmacies!


But as I know all too well from walking on the streets of Rome, Italians don’t always love to clean up after their dogs when they’ve, ummm, done their business – you know, pooped!

And it’s not uncommon for people to step in it which is really ICK and I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Now a north Italian town is using high tech to make sure dog owners scoop their pet’s poop!

How? Well, the town of Bolzano is going to set up a DNA database of all the town’s dogs.

What’s DNA? You know, it’s the genetic code unique to every living being.

Kinda like a human fingerprint – but taken from the inside of cells, not just an ink picture of your hand.

So, yes, every creature on Earth has its own unique, distinctive genetic code.

So, once this dog database is complete, street cleaners and health officials that find dog mess left on the streets will be able to test the poop, find its DNA and which human that dog is registered to.

Who will, of course, be fined.

I know what you’re thinking – how will they get pet-owners to give their dog’s DNA?

You got it – more fines for anyone who refuses to allow their pets to be DNA-profiled.

Authorities estimate there are around 40,000 dogs living (and pooping) in the region – with around 10,000 already in the database.

They reckon they’ll have the rest by the end of March.

Now, I just hope other Italian cities will follow in their paw steps.

In Rome, I’m Ananya Kazmin, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Well, thank you so much, Ananya for that story which though odd is, I have to say, a breath of fresh air!

[SOURCE: https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/dog-dna-detectives-trace-owners-not-scooping-poop-italian-province-2024-01-17/


FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…” 

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – Happy New Lunar Year, everyone! According to the Chinese New Year legend, the monster is afraid of what?

Loud noises and the colour red.

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – What foods do people in China eat for the Lunar New Year?

Dumplings, fish, or candies. I love them.

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – FAB FACT 3: What is another phrase for the Lunar New Year?

The spring festival.

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 –Britain has been getting soaked in “blood rain” because what mixes with the rain clouds to create what’s called the “blood rain” effect?

Sander dust particles.

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – A town in Italy is using DNA for a “poop patrol” to locate and fine lazy pet owners. DNA is the genetic code unique to every what?

Every living thing.

And don’t forget, if you wanna test yourself later on, then go to the lucky dip page of our website. That’s newsypoolloozy.com, like a swimming pool. That’s p o o l o o z I. And take this quiz online in your own time.

LEELA: And that almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi! But first… we must, of course, thank our wonderful team!

MAMA: That would be the amazing Julie Noce who helped me write and pull together the Chinese New Year special, our intern Sahasra Sridhar who wrote the UK blood rain story…

LEELA: And, of course, our trusty production assistant Jyoti Chauhan.

If you enjoyed this dip in the coolest pool of news and information, then why don’t you spread the word? Tell a friend about us.

MAMA: Yeah – think of the cool things you’ll be able to talk about. Or tell your teacher – bet they’ll be impressed with all you know!

LEELA: Alrighty then, see you soon in the happy, splashy giant Newsy Pooloozi!