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.

18th October

1851 Moby Dick first published – if, like me, you have no intention of ever reading the real thing, why not try the graphic novel version with your kids?

1922 BBC founded

1967 Soviet Venera reaches Venus and measures its atmosphere – here’s a short video about Venus.

Alaska Day (1867 US bought Alaska for $7.2 million), so make a Baked Alaska, or learn about the aurora borealis or watch sled dog races.

Azerbaijan Independence Day (from USSR)

Azerbaijan (see on Google maps) was originally inhabited by Caucasian Albanians, and then was settled by Scythians and Iranians before becoming part of Alexander the Great’s empire. Later it became a Persian vassal state, and the king officially adopted Christianity in the 4th century, but then the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate took over.

At the beginning of the 11th century Turkic Oghuz tribes took over, and their languages became Azerbaijani. It then became a vassal state of the Timur Empire which occupied most of Central Asia. Then Iranian dynasties took over, as well as a lot of khanates.

Russia came in in 1812, and after a couple of wars with Iran, took Azerbaijan. Russia collapsed after WWI, and Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia became the Transcaucasian Democratic Federal Republic.

The republic dissolved too and Azerbaijan gained independence as the first modern parliamentary republic.

But slightly less than two years later Soviet Russia invaded because it needed Azerbaijan’s oil. Azerbaijan’s oil really helped Russia during WWII.

On 18th October 1991 Azerbaijan became independent from Russia again.

(…to be continued)

17th October

1860 first Open Championship golf

1956 Sellafield opens, the world’s first commercial nuclear power station;

Anniversary of the Death of Dessalines

Dessalines is celebrated in Haiti as he led the country to become the first black republic in the world back in 1804. But he didn’t quite get everything right: the country’s economy had been built on slavery for the sugar and coffee plantations and after he’d massacred the white Haitian minority he made the black Haitians continue to work in quasi-slave conditions ‘for their country’ as military duty, etc. He also needed educated people in his government office and as the mixed race Haitians were usually the better educated, he accidentally made a light-skinned government, which didn’t look great. For those who understand French, the Dessalinienne, Haiti’s national anthem, is pretty terrifying. This could be a good opportunity to talk about the consequences of slavery or, for younger children, to learn some freedom songs.

14th October

1066 Battle of Hastings fought – see an animated Bayeux Tapestry here.

1926 Winnie the Pooh first published

2012 Felix Baumgartner jumps from the stratosphere

Svetitskhovloba (Georgian Orthodox Festival of the Life Giving Pillar Church, which holds Jesus’s mantle or tunic)

Nyerere Day (Tanzania – see 26th April)