27th May

1930 the Chrysler Building opens

1933 Disney’s Three Little Pigs premiers

1937 the Golden Gate bridge opens, so build a bridge; here are some links to get you started:

26th May

1897 Dracula published – The Graffex version is great for young readers (7-9ish)

Bermuda Day 2014 (first weekday after 24 May: people go into the sea and start wearing Bermuda shorts to work)

Crown Prince’s Birthday (Denmark) – see 5th June

Georgia Independence Day (from Russia, 1919)

Guyana Independence Day (from UK, 1966)

National Sorry Day/National Day of Healing (Australia)

24th May

1830 Mary had a little lamb first published

1844 Samuel Morse sends the first telegraph mesage

1883 the Brooklyn Bridge opens

1930 Amy Johnson becomes the first lady to fly from England to Australia, having set off a mere 20 days earlier.

Saints Cyril and Methodius, Slavonic Enlighteners Day: these 9th-century Greek Christian missionaries invented the Cyrillic alphabets so they could write to and convert the illiterate pagan Slavs in what is now the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This day is celebrated in Bulgaria and Macedonia.

Eritrea Independence Day (from Ethiopia in 1991; Eritrea originally formed after Italy and the Ottoman Empire pushed a bunch of independent kingdoms into one country, and it became part of Ethiopia in 1947.)

Bermuda Day

Belize Commonwealth Day

Battle of Pichincha (Ecuador, 1822 against Spain)

23rd May

1829 accordion invented, Vienna,

World Turtle Day

Watch David Attenborough’s baby turtles racing to the sea (this video makes the Toddler laugh so much), then make these egg box turtles. Maybe, if you have a sandpit, you could make paper eggs for them and bury them.

Tibet Liberation Day: it was a British protectorate from 1904; China took it back 1950. See 10 March for full history.

Other events today:

  • Birthday of Guru Amar Das (Sikhs)
  • Jamaica Labour Day – see 6th August
  • South Carolina founded 1788: famous for peaches

22nd May

1980 Pacman released

1813 Richard Wagner born

1859 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle born – so play a murder mystery game


1907 Hergé born – so get Tintin out the library

Haiti National Sovereignty Day:

Haiti was the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the first black-led republic in the world. It’s the poorest country in the Americas and, aside from Canada, the only officially French-speaking country there.

It is part of the island of Hispaniola (the other part is the Dominican Republic). The island was originally inhabited by Taino Indians, until Columbus arrived in 1492.


The Taino people really fought against his colonies, such as the queen Anacaona, now considered one of the island’s founders, but lost. Disease and malnutrition killed off so many Taino Indians that the Spaniards had to import African slaves to do their work for them, and eventually the Tainos became nearly extinct.

Then it became a haven for pirates and French ‘buccaneers’ (people who attacked Spanish ships).

Eventually Spain and France settled their differences by splitting the island, with France taking the Dominican side. This side was very populous, wealthy and full of brutally treated slaves and later mixed-race free peoples.

In 1791 the slaves realised they greatly outnumbered the white population and revolted. The French government abolished slavery and Toussaint Louverture became leader, but then Napoleon decided to invade with the plan to reinstate slavery.

Toussaint Louverture

The French soldiers mainly died of yellow fever; the general invited Louverture to negotiations… then kidnapped him and sent him to a French prison to die, but the slaves continued to fight until Napoleon gave up.

The slaves named their country Ayiti, which by coincidence meant ‘homeland’ in Taino and in Fon African, and was the Taino name for the whole island before the Spanish came.

America (Jefferson) tried to ignore the new country, the only country ever to become an independent nation after a slave revolt, in case their revolt encouraged American slaves.


A Haitian general, Dessalines, who had led the battle that defeated the French, was named emperor and killed off all the white people he could find; he was assassinated and then the north was ruled by Henri I, who built the largest fortress in the western hemisphere, La Citadelle Laferrière, and replaced slave labour with unpaid labour (hmm).

The south was ruled by  Alexandre Pétion, who believed in democracy so long as it didn’t apply to himself (he decided he was President for Life) and did a bit of socialist redistribution of land. Consequently the poor loved him but just used the land to feed themselves (selfish); exports and the economy fell.

In 2010 Haiti suffered a massive earthquake.

Does your kid like Haitian art like Hector Hyppolite? What do they think of voodoo?

Martinique Slavery Abolition Day:

Also known as the island of flowers, Martinique was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502. Before then it was inhabited by Arawaks, then Caribs, and then the Taino.

In 1635, Pierre Belain d’Esnambuc, French governor of the island of St. Kitts, landed with 150 French settlers after the English kicked him out of St Kitts. Since then Martinique belonged to France. The indigenous Caribs tried to rebel but mainly lost.

France mainly sent its Huguenots (Protestants) over who didn’t fit in with their Catholic culture, becoming servants in the plantations; however Martinique is mainly Catholic today.

In 1902 Mont Pélée erupted and killed 30,000 people – learn about volcanoes. Zouk music comes from Martinique.

Yemen National Day

Other events today:

21st May

2005 the tallest rollercoaster in the world, Kingda Ka, opens in New Jersey

2010 Japan launches a solar-sail spacecraft IKAROS that will later fly by Venus

1844 Henri Rousseau born – his paintings are fun to cut up and stick together to make new scenes.

Other events today:

  • Afro-Colombian Day
  • Circassian Day of Mourning
  • St Helena Day