28th April

1948 Terry Pratchett born – so read Johnny and the Bomb

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

16th April

Easter Sunday (2017) – so do some Easter egg science! And have an Easter egg hunt. I also like this Easter egg sound-matching game and using the recycling box to make an egg launch/drop.

And… do an Easter egg hunt:

Decorate your eggs!

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I sadly love these bunny napkins:

Definitely make an Easter tree:

Have an egg and spoon race or an egg rolling race.

Make an Easter bonnet:

Make Easter bread:

and Easter nests (with peeps):

1178 BC Odysseus/Ulysses returns from the Trojan War

1889 Charlie Chaplin born

José de Diego Day, father of the Puerto Rican independence movement

World Voice Day

6th March

 

Michaelangelo born 1475 – try reproducing his greatest works through posed photography, mosaics, sculpture, whatever you want. This website has facts and his most famous works.

Norfolk Island’s Foundation Day:

The Islands were first settled by Polynesians in around the 14th century but they left after a few generations. James Cook spotted it on his way past and named it after the Duchess of Norfolk.

At first Britain moved in to grow hemp so they didn’t have to rely on Russian exports, and in 1788 they sent convicts there to convert the island into a deportation centre, but in 1813 they had left again, as the islands were too far away so it was too costly to send convicts there. They destroyed all the buildings and livestock so other Europeans wouldn’t claim it as their own.

Later its remoteness was seen as advantage for sending the worst convicts there. In 1853 those convicts were moved back to Tasmania, as the UK was stopping penal colonies and starting penal servitude within the UK.

In 1856 Pitcairn Islanders moved in as their island had become too small. These were a mix of Tahitians and descendants of the HMS Bounty mutiny.

From 1901 it became part of the Australian Commonwealth, but the citizens only pay income tax, no other tax.

Our colonisation destroyed much of the island’s rainforest and the introduction of rats and cats have killed off many of the island’s birds. The island has very few surnames, as all the Pitcairners were related to each other, so their telephone directory has to include nicknames too; and the islanders are very friendly and all drivers wave to each other as they pass – this is called the Norfolk Wave. The culture is quite Tahitian, including the hula dance.

 

Ghana Independence Day:

Ghana means ‘warrior king’. It was mostly unpopulated historically, but Akan people lived there from the 11th century and traded gold.

The Ashanti Empire took most of it by the 19th century, making a third slaves.

Portuguese, Dutch, English and French traders arrived, attracted by the gold. Britain named it the Gold Coast; France named it the Ivory Coast.

The Ashanti tried to fight against British domination, and won a few battles, but eventually lost.

After WWII the population really tried to rebel against British power and from 1957 Ghana was declared ‘free forever’.

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Kwame Nkrumah, the first Ghanaian president, was the first African president to try and create pan-Africanism, an African-American idea of equality for all people in Africa no matter what their ethnicity. It is the most religious country in the world.

Try making some Kente cloth.

Their favourite sport is football. Music invented in Ghana includes Afro-jazz and highlife.

 

European Day of the Righteous – so fight for some human rights.

5th March

1853 Howard Pyle born, who wrote and illustrated The Adventures of Robin Hood and Tales of King Arthur

St Piran’s Day, national day of Cornwall – so make fudge:

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a cream tea

or a Cornish pastie.

Try a Furry dance, listen to a Cornish piper or try the Cornish language.

 

Vanuatu Custom Chief’s Day:

vanuatu-from-australia-map

My favourite fact about Vanuatu, which is really a group of islands or archipelago, is that there are people living on Tanna who revere Prince Philip as a god. Most villages have male and female sections, and if you’re a girl on your period, you are expected to stay in a zone reserved for menstruating women. It was Spanish from 1605, then France and the UK shared it from the 1880s until its independence in 1980.

2nd March

1904 Dr Seuss born

Texas Independence Day (see 22 November for general America or try some Tex-Mex recipes)

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • Omizu-Okuri (Japanese Buddhist water-carrying festival, where river water is carried to the temple)
  • Burma Peasants Day (politicians discuss how to improve the lives of peasants, or farmers, and there are fairs of traditional crafts)
  • Victory of Adwa (celebrates Ethiopia defeating Italy in 1896)
  • Jamahiriya Day (Libya’s People’s Power Day, because Gadaffi liked to pretend he let the people rule themselves).

1st March

St David’s Day (Wales):

Make daffodils out of egg cartons:

daffodil lollipops:

daffodil candy cups:

daffodil windmills:

daffodil cupcakes:

Or try some St David’s Day Welsh food, like Glamorgan sausages:

and Welsh cakes:

Eat them up with Welsh love spoons:

A bit about Wales: it has been inhabited for at least 29,000 years. About 12,000 years ago, in the last Ice Age, when sea levels were lower, hunter-gatherers could just walk from Europe to the UK across Doggerland, a piece of land now under the North Sea. The last glacier in Wales melted away about 10,000 years ago, and the rising sea separated it from Ireland. 8,000 years ago Britain became an island.

Eventually the Stone Age people became Bronze Age people, and then Iron Age Celts. The Romans arrived in A.D. 48 and stayed for 300 years, extracting gold, copper and lead but not really ever being allowed to Romanise the people as they did in England.

In 383 A.D. a Roman general called Magnus Maximus left Britain with all of its troops and governors, planning to rule as Emperor from Gaul. As he left he bestowed ruling power on local authorities, and so he is seen as one of the Welsh founding fathers for appointing local people the power to rule Wales. I think….

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Romano-Britons formed little kingdoms which fought with each other to define their boundaries. In the 8th century King Offa built Offa’s Dyke which still roughly separates Wales from England.

In 853 the Vikings raided the island of Anglesey but the king of Gwynedd defeated them, allied with them and invaded the north of Wales with them.

In the 11th century Gruffydd ap Llewellyn became the only Welsh king ever to rule over the entire territory of Wales. Then William the Conqueror took England, and gave lords with their own ruling laws reign over the area near Wales – this was called the Welsh Marches.

Llewellyn Fawr became the first Prince of Wales following the Magna Carta in 1215, but in 1282 Edward I invaded and the Welsh princes ended with Llewellyn’s head being carried through London on a spear. Under Henry VIII Wales became part of the UK.

In the Industrial Revolution Wales became a centre for copper mining and iron smelting – Parys Mountain in Anglesey had the world’s biggest copper mine. Later slate quarrying and coal mining became successful. Just before the First World War, Wales was at its peak coal production, exporting millions of tons a year. In WWII 10% of all young male conscripts were sent into the coal mines – they became known as the Bevin Boys.

In 1925 the political party Plaid Cymru was formed, seeking independence from the UK. In 1955 Cardiff became Wales’ capital city. In 1965, despite 34 out of 35 Welsh MPs voting against it, a Welsh village was flooded to make a reservoir for Liverpool, because there were simply more English MPs who voted for it. In 1997 the Welsh National Assembly was set up to decide how Wales’s budget is run. Wales defines itself as a country, although Prince Charles’s title of Prince of Wales suggests it is really a principality.

Read Celtic myths or the Mabinogian; play rugby!

 

 

Martenitsa (Bulgaria): On 1 March, Bulgarians celebrate Baba Marta Day. Baba Marta is a mythical old woman whose moods affect the weather in March. They make martenitisi and give them away to friends and family.

They tie them round their wrists as a symbol of good fortune, health and prosperity. When they see a tree in blossom, or a stork or swallow, they remove the bracelet and put it on the tree or under a stone. The wearing of the bracelet is also supposed to be a wish for spring, to make winter pass more quickly.

Romanians celebrate Martisor in a similar way, with red and white or black and white bracelets that they wear for the first 12 days of the month to represent prosperity for the next 12 months. They often have little talismans tied onto them to represent what they want in the year ahead. They also make a Martisor tort.

 

1810 Frederick Chopin born – here’s a beginner’s guide.

 

National Pig Day (US): Make a piggy bank:

or learn about the Three Little Pigs:

 

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • Iceland’s Beer Day – see 17th June
  • Bosnia-Herz Independence Day – see 25th November
  • S. Korea 1 March Movement Day (celebrates resistance to Japanese occupation) – see 17th July.

27th February

Dominican Republic Independence Day

In about 650 A.D. Tainos came from South America to the Dominican Republic. Then Caribs drove the Tainos to the north-east Carribean in the 15th century.

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In 1492 Christopher Colombus arrived, bringing the Spanish, smallpox and measles, and generally conquering by disease. His brother Bartholomew built the city of Santo Domingo, Western Europe’s first settlement in the New World.

The Spanish used the island for plantations and to launch other conquests around the Americas. By the 18th century the population had risen from a few thousand to 40,000 white landowners, 25,000 black freedmen, and 60,000 slaves.

French buccaneers arrived and took the western side. France eventually owned the whole island, but the west bit, then named Saint-Domingue, revolted against France and became independent Haiti.

In 1805 Haitians invaded Santo Domingo. In 1808 Napoleon invaded Spain, and Santo Domingo’s Spanish settlers revolted against French rule. Britain helped, and that part of the island was returned to Spain.

They later declared themselves independent as Spanish Haiti, and wanted to be part of Gran Colombia, but Haitians invaded and took over.

The Haitians, led by Jean-Pierre Boyer abolished slavery and nationalised a lot of property owned by settlers, the Spanish Crown and the Church. Boyer drafted all young men into the army, collapsing the university system, and taxed everyone heavily.

In 1838 Jean Pablo Duarte led the fight for independence with a secret society called La Trinitaria, comprising him, Matías Ramón Mella and Francisco del Rosario Sánchez.

On 27th February 1844 they declared themselves independent from Haiti (who of course carried on invading, but still…), backed by Pedro Santana, a cattle rancher who became general of their army.

Santana, and a wealthy official named Buenaventura Báez, both decided they were now in charge. Santana wanted to reunite Santo Domingo with Spain, Báez with America.

Santana succeeded, leading to the War of Restoration in 1863, this time helped by Haiti who didn’t want to live next door to a colonial power again. Spain gave up in 1865.

In 1916 America thought the Dominican Republic were doing a terrible job by themselves and invaded. They controlled the republic until 1922, building roads but not really gaining popularity.

The republic then had a dictator, Trujillo, who did a lot of good like improve healthcare and housing, education, etc., but was also a bit murdery as dictators often are. He ordered El Corte, the murder of any Haitians living on the Dominican border (we won’t mention that he was a quarter Haitian himself).

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On 25 November 1960 Trujillo murdered 3 Mirabel sisters for opposing his regime. He also tried to assassinate the Venezuelan president, and in 1961 was assassinated himself.

Worried that another Communist Cuba might be created, America invaded to supervise elections. In 1960 Joaquin Balaguer became president and was quite oppressive, killing 11,000 people, but at least he wasn’t Communist, eh? Besides, they liked him and he was President on and off until 1996. Since then they’ve started to get the hang of things, and their economy and democracy seem to work.

The national dance is Merengue; the national music is Bachata; baseball is their favourite sport, while tourists love their year-round golf courses.