4th May

Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you)

1871 the National Association, the first pro baseball league, starts playing – so play baseball!

1972 Greenpeace named – so get environmental!

1655 Bartolomeo Cristofori, inventor of the piano, born – so get playing!

1852 Alice Liddell (inspired Wonderland) born

Bird Day (US: towards the conservation of birds – so bring bird seed and binoculars out with you)

Cassinga Day (Namibia commemorates the Battle of Cassinga against South African forces in 1978)

Japan Greenery Day – the blog above is so cute.

Latvian Declaration of Independence Day

Death of Milan Rastislav Štefánik Day (Slovakia’s co-founder, died in 1919)

International Firefighters’ Day

3rd May

Roodmas/Finding of the Holy Cross Day. The church above which the cross was found, built by St Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, is still to be found in Jerusalem.

Japan Constitution Memorial Day – see 11th February

Poland National/Constitution Day
In 966 A.D. Mieszko I, ruler of the land that is now Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, and in 1569 it became part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1772–95 Poland was partitioned among Prussia, the Russian Empire, and Austria. It regained its independence at the end of World War I and became the Second Polish Republic.

In 1939, World War II was started when the Nazis and Russia invaded Poland. More than six million Polish citizens died in the war. After the war Poland became a satellite state of the Soviet Union. In 1989 Poland’s Marxist–Leninist government was overthrown and Poland became a democracy called the Third Polish Republic.

It has one of the oldest mountain ranges on earth (the Jura range) and a desert with sand 40 metres deep! They have a national reforestation scheme aiming to cover a THIRD of the country in forest (they’re only about 3% off the target) and a lot of the landscape is protected.

Famous Polish people include Marie Curie (moved to Paris when she was 24); Copernicus, and Chopin. They invented the polonaise. And you got to check out the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

30th April

Walpurgis Night (or St Walpurga’s Night, originally) is associated more with witches than the female saint. In Czechoslovakia they burn little witches made of rags; in Estonia they dress as witches like we would on Hallowe’en; in Finland there are carnivals and picnics; northern Germany has bonfires.

In old Ireland it was called Beltane; the day cattle were driven to the pastures for the summer, and rituals were done to protect them such as passing them through two bonfires. The flames would be used to relight all domestic fires and candles, and the ashes from the original fires would be spread on crops.

Other events today:

  • Children’s Day (Mexico) – see 16th September
  • Reunification Day (Vietnam) – see 2nd September
  • Louisiana founded (1812): famous for New Orleans, voodoo, jazz, tobasco sauce, Mardi Gras, jambalaya, gumbo, pralines

29th April

International Dance Day – it’s time to reenact some of your favourite dance videos, isn’t it? We like Daft Punk’s Around the World, Fatboy Slim’s Praise You, Run DMC/Jason Nevin’s It’s Like That, and the Evolution of Dance.

1789 George Washington becomes first elected President of US

Showa Day (Japanese reflect on the reign of Emperor Hirohito 1926-89, which saw Japan’s pretty appalling behaviour during WWII and subsequent occupation by America)

Vallenato Legend Festival (Colombian music festival, 2014)

28th April

Sardinia National Day: Sardinia is full of very cool giants’ tombs from the Bronze Age.

There are also about 7,000 nuraghi from 1500 B.C. onwards, defensive forts.

Phoenicians began to invade, and with Carthaginian help they took the south. When the Carthaginians were defeated by Rome, Rome took Sardinia and Corsica. Romans pushed the Nuragic people into the mountains, which they then called Barbaria. They ruled Sardinia for 694 years, during which Sardinia grew loads of grain for the empire and Latin was the main language.

The Vandals came in 456 AD but Rome soon took it back. From 533 it was part of the Byzantine Empire. Gradually it became independent, and no one’s sure exactly how, until the native ‘judges’ became the rulers. It then continued without much outside influence, like a little imperial Rome.

Then Pisa invaded a bit, and the Pope offered a made-up crown of Corsica and Sardinia to James II of Aragon to settle the War of the Vespers.

Then from 1465 some ‘judges’ (or giudici) managed to bring together most of Sardinia, with only Cagliari and Alghero still belonging to Aragon (Spain). But then the Kingdom of Aragon took the whole thing back, and introduced the feudal system at a time the rest of Europe was starting to realise it was awful.

Charles I of Spain

Sardinia was inherited by Charles I of Spain, who fortified Sardinia against African Berber pirates. Sardinia suffered a lot of famines during Spanish rule.

In 1708 Spain handed Sardinia over to Austria after the Spanish War of Succession deciding who should reign after Charles II of Spain (he’d chosen Philip of Anjou, but everyone panicked about France and Spain uniting their empires under one king and had a big ol’ fight about it. They decided on Philip V of Spain instead, and meanwhile redistributed some of Spain’s empire).

Napoleon

In 1793 Napoleon tried to invade a couple of times but was repelled. The Dukes of Savoy fled to Sardinia to hide from Napoleon, and bizarrely Sardinia then united with the Italian states of Turin and Piedmont and the French states of Nice and Savoy, and they all had one parliament in Turin. Sardinia then became the Kingdom of Italy. Not kidding.

Then they went a bit Fascist, and imprisoned anyone who didn’t want to be a fascist, and if anyone spoke Sardinian they went to prison too.

In 1946 Italy became a republic and Sardinia a state of autonomy. They eradicated malaria, got a boost in tourism, went fully industrial in the ’60s, suffered an oil crisis in the ’70s, accepted some NATO military bases during the Cold War, and now it’s phasing into Europe.

Sardinia has its own special singing style, cantu a tenori, and instrument called a launeddas. Maria Carta and Elena Ledda are famous Sardinian singers.

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • Feast of Beauty (Baha’i faith)
  • Barbados National Heroes Day
  • Victory of the Muslim Nations (Afghanistan Revolution Day).
  • Maryland state founded (1788): cookies, Edgar Allen Poe

27th April

1749 Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks first performed

1810 Beethoven composes Fuer Elise

http://www.designbuzz.com/lego-airbus-a380-with-touchscreen-controls/

2005 the first Airbus flies

1791 Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse code, born

Sierra Leone Independence Day (from UK in 1961):

Despite being a tiny country full of diamonds, gold, titanium and bauxite, and despite having the third largest natural harbour in the world at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay, 70% of its people live in poverty. Its name means ‘Lioness Mountains’.

From 1495 it was a slave-trading post for many countries; from 1787 escaped African-American slaves began to set up colonies there, becoming Freetown, the country’s capital.

I’m not sure exactly how it became British; it seems like we just casually took over, but after 1961 democracy lasted about 6 years, then they had all kinds of military coups and then a civil war. The UN tried to get involved, and 500 were taken hostage. So the British came in and sorted everyone out, and apparently now Tony Blair is quite popular over there for helping.

King’s Day (Netherlands and colonies) – everyone wears orange and celebrates the King’s birthday – so maybe dress up as kings and queens and have an orange feast!

Other events that might inspire your play:

  • S. Africa Freedom Day (celebrates the first elections in 1994 when black people could vote)
  • Togo Independence Day (from France in 1960 – see 13 Jan)