31st October

Hallowe’en

  • Go apple-bobbing
  • Carve a pumpkin or a turnip
  • Tell a ghost story
  • Wear fancy dress
  • If you have a deceased loved one you wish to remember, you could leave out soul cakes or Spanish Huesos de Santo (saints’ bones) and a drink at a place for them on the table when you eat.

Huesos de Santos

  • Do fancy dress trick-or-treating
  • Do divination games, like baking a barmbrack with different symbolic items in it to predict the year ahead for those who eat it.
  • Have a Halloween disco…we like Michael Jackon’s ‘Thriller'; Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells'; ‘Ghostbusters Theme'; the Monster Mash; the ‘Time Warp’ from the Rocky Horror Picture Show; Rockwell’s ‘Somebody’s Watching Me'; The Specials’ ‘Ghost Town'; ‘I Put A Spell on You'; ‘Zombie Nation’….etc.
  • We also like to make a haunted house out of Lego and playdough.
  • haunted house
  • Littler ones can carve playdough pumpkins.
  • pumpkin
  • Make slime!
  • Other Hallowe’en food includes: a pumpkin sicking up dip; pretzel and cheese string broomsticks; mini toffee apples; and these banana/satsuma monsters!

In Cornwall it’s called Allantide and children have apples under their pillows to dream of the future or for good luck.

The Scots used to peel an apple in one long strip and throw it over their shoulder to see the first letter of their future love’s name.

Also today:

1941 – Mount Rushmore completed

2000 – Expedition 1 launched to the International Space Station, making 30 October 2000 the last day there were no humans in space! You can find out when to see it in orbit here, and you can see its view here. See a quite long video tour of its insides here. This kindergarten has a wonderful space play area.

Germany Day of Reformation – see 3rd October.

29th October

Turkey Republic Day

Most of modern Turkey lies on the Anatolian Peninsula, one of the oldest permanent settlements in the world. It is thought that all Indo-European languages came from here. The European bit, the Eastern Thrace, is also pretty old, and had Neolithic farming in 6,000 B.C.

The Hattians and the Hurrians lived here until the Hittites came along (I know, it’s great) and founded the Hittite Empire (18th-13th century B.C.!) A load of others invaded, Assyrians, Phrygians, Cimmerians, etc., but when the Greeks came and founded Byzantium in 657 B.C. it started to get interesting.

In the 6th-5th centuries B.C. Turkey was part of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, which fell to Alexander the Great in 334 B.C. The Battle of Troy was fought here, and the architectural site is a big tourist attraction.

Then it became part of the Roman empire, by which time the Anatolian language had been replaced by Greek. In 324, Constantine I chose Byzantium as the Roman capital (which is why it became called Constantinople) and when the Empire was divided, Byzantium became the capital of its eastern half.

In the 11th century, Seljuks (Muslim Turks) invaded and introduced Turkish and Islam. They were then defeated by the Mongols, and one Turkish king who remained, Osman I, founded the dynasty of Ottoman Turks who would rule the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman Empire took over the Byzantine Empire in 1453 when it took Constantinople. Portugal turned out to be the empire’s main rivals for dominance over the Silk Road and the Indian Ocean.

The Empire peaked under Suleiman the Magnificent (look at that turban….)

Its rival now was the Holy Roman Empire, as the Ottomans marched on through the Balkans to Poland-Lithuania. In the 19th century it began to decline; Russia took the Caucasus, and Muslim Turks settled in the Balkans mainly fled back to Constantinople.

The Ottoman Empire entered WWI and was defeated. During the war the Ottomans decided to get rid of the Armenians, and while the Armenian men were mainly fighting for their country abroad, the women, children and elderly were sent on death marches into the Syrian desert without food or water. 1.5 million Armenians were killed and the word ‘genocide’ was coined in 1943 to describe this mass murder. Turkey does not recognise it as genocide yet.

After WWI you’d think everyone would have a break, but actually the Allies occupied Constantinople and insisted (in the Treaty of Sèvres) that the Ottoman Empire hand over all non-Turkish land and divide it between (British-owned) Palestine and (French-owned) Syria.

So then the Turkish War of Independence booted them out in 1922, and we all signed the Treaty of Lausanne, which defined nearly all of Turkey’s borders except with Iraq, but didn’t give the Kurds their own homeland, which is why they’re always kind of in the wrong country.There was also some weird population exchange, wherein Greece sent over 380,000 Muslims in return for 1.1 million Greeks.

Mustafa Kemal, who had led the war of independence, became the first president of the Republic. They managed to stay out of most of WWII, and they got a lot of economic support from America’s Truman Doctrine so they didn’t fall into Russia’s hands afterwards.

Cyprus had a bit of a wobble in 1974, when a military coup installed the dictator Nikos Sampson who wanted union with Greece. Turkey invaded, took the north of Cyprus, and by 1983 this had declared itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which only Turkey recognises. Turkey itself still has problems with some separatist Kurds who keep terrorising people.

Their national sport is oiled wrestling….Try making Turkish delight, or buy some and have a Turkish tea party, with coffee (use Nesquik or dandelion and burdock for the kids?) in a pan or tea in tulip-shaped glasses.

Cambodia Coronation Day

22nd October

1797 first recorded parachute jump (invented by André-Jacques Garnerin)

1811 Franz Liszt born – his top 4 most famous songs are Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, La Campanella, Liebestraume No. 3, and Un Sospiro.

Sun Festival Abu Simbel (Egypt)

World Energy Day – see it in pictures at Greenpeace.

Diwali (2014)

21st October

Trafalgar Day:

On this day in 1805 Nelson beat the 33 Franco-Spanish ships with his 27 ships by inventing a new naval tactic. He was mortally wounded in battle and became a war hero.

Trafalgar Day has not really celebrated in Britain since World War I when we realised war is something horrendous and tragic, but there are still some naval-history places like Birmingham and Portsmouth that hold ceremonies. We pretended to be sailors, with spoons for oars and a washing basket for a boat!

Apple Day (UK) – why not try all the varieties in the grocer’s, talk about the differences in how they look/taste/smell/sound/feel, and maybe find a new favourite.

International Nacho Day

St Ursula’s Day (British Virgin Islands)

Antillean Day (Netherlands Antilles and St Martin)

20th October

1720 Carribean pirate Calico Jack captured by Royal Navy; his flag was the Jolly Roger with the skull and two crossed swords – have a pirate day!

 

1632 Sir Christopher Wren born

 

Kenyatta Day/ Mashujaa Day/ Heroes’ Day (Kenya)

 

Guatemala Revolution Day:

Guatemala was the home to the fascinating ancient Mayan civilisation until around 900 A.D., when they were killed off by drought. The Spanish came in in 1519. The capital city moved around a lot, and was finally moved from Antigua to the Ermita Valley after an earthquake in 1773.

In 1821 Guatemala declared its independence from Spain. They then had a bunch of revolutions and civil wars, accidentally got caught up in the Cold War on America’s side. In 1996 (!!) the civil wars finally ended and history has embarrassed America in showing their support of the Guatemalan government’s genocide of all those dangerous possible socialists, like students and farmers.

We learnt about hurricanes, because Guatemala is kind of in a hurricane basin, by creating ‘hurricanes’ by stirring a pint glass of water very fast, and spinning ourselves in to hurricanes too, and watching some clips of how they are formed on Youtube. You could also learn about the Mayans or draw the iconic cross in Antigua.