25th February

1897 Peter Llewelyn Davies born (after whom Peter Pan was named)


Kuwait National Day:

Kuwait was part of the Parthian (Iranian/Persian) Empire from 123 B.C. and the Sassanid Empire (the last pre-Islamic Persian empire) from 224 A.D.

By the 14th century it was part of the Muslim caliphate (religious rule). It was part of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire from the 17th century.

The current ruling family in Kuwait are descendants of its ruler in 1756, Sabah I bin Jaber.

In 1899, the Sheikh worried that the Ottoman Empire would take over completely, and so Kuwait became a protectorate of the UK.

Large oil reserves were discovered in 1937 and after WWII the country became quite wealthy because of it.

In 1961 Kuwait became independent. Iraq cheekily said, well, now Kuwait is ours, but Britain said haha, no. Kuwait then tried a bit of democracy and then the emir said haha, no.

Magically – even though when the UK was in charge it did a terrible job of negotiating Kuwait’s boundaries and left it sharing swathes of land with Saudi Arabia – and even though that land is full of oil – magically, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia share it without warring about it. Which I love.

In the 1980s Iran and Iraq were at war with each other, which helped Kuwait as they could focus on selling oil while those two messed about with guns.

Kuwait supported Iraq, and Saddam Hussein, and deported thousands of their Iranian Shi’ite expats to avoid internal terrorism protests.

However, Kuwait did expect to paid back for supporting Saddam ($65 billion), which he did not like, and he invaded them in 1990. This led to the first Gulf War, with America and 34 other countries bombed Iraq and Kuwait until Iraq pulled out, setting fire to all the oil wells they could find as they did.

Kuwait paid the US coalition $17 billion to say thanks. The destruction caused by the Iraqi army had filled the Persian Gulf sea with oil and the smoke and damage from the fires was atrocious.

Over two-thirds of people living in Kuwait aren’t Kuwait citizens, which is a bit weird. They have the best freedom of press in the Middle East, and women can vote, stand in Parliament and don’t have to wear a burka.

Pearl fishing used to be a very important trade for Kuwait until the Japanese started pearl farming – so make little pearl oyster cakes.

Or try this ‘pearl sensory play’ with tapioca pearls from bubble tea or water beads from a florist’s:

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • Kitano Baika-sai – geishas perform a tea ceremony beneath the plum blossom;
  • Philippines People Power Day – see 30th December
  • Georgia Soviet Occuption Day – see 26th May

11th February

Venice Carnival starts, 2017, so make a Carnival mask:



1942 Glen Miller’s ‘Chatanooga Choo-Choo’ first to receive a gold record for selling more than a million copies

US Inventor’s Day

Japan National Foundation Day:

Japanese call Japan Nippon, which means ‘sun-origin’ so it’s also called Land of the Rising Sun.


Japan is actually made up of 6,852 islands!

First evidence of humans was 30,000 years ago. Buddhism came over in the 3rd century.

From about 1200 A.D. a ruling warrior class of samurais emerged, called shoguns. Everyone was very fighty, and there was a century of civil wars called the Sengoku period.

In the 16th century the Portuguese reached Japan for the first time. From 1590 Japan was united into one nation.

From 1603 codes of conduct were issued for the samurai classes to try and stop them from doing things like killing someone just for an insult, as they had been doing until now.

From 1639 Japan isolated itself from the rest of the world to try and stay united. This is called the Edo period.

In 1854 the American Navy arrived and made the Emperor agree to trade with them. The Japanese people were cross about this, and it led to the Boshin War, with the shogun resigning and Japan was then ruled by the Emperor Meiji.

Japan became an industrialised world-power and kept invading nearby countries to expand its power. The Emperor Taisho was a bit elderly so they introduced a democracy so that parliament could rule.

In WWI Japan was one of the Allies, but when it invaded Manchuria we all thought that was a bit much, so Japan left the League of Nations and by WWII Japan had flipped and was on the Nazis’ side. They agreed not to fight with Russia, but they invaded China a lot, with the Nanking massacre a particular low point.

They invaded French Indochina to stop France from supplying arms to China, so America stopped sending oil to Japan, so Japan bombed Pearl Harbour and brought the US into WWII.

Russia gave up its treaty not to fight Japan and took Manchuria; meanwhile, America dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered.

The Allies put all the Japanese colonists back in Japan and prosecuted war criminals. Since then Japan has gone all liberal and democratic, and even has a bit in its constitution where it renounced the right to declare war. Imagine if everyone did that.

In 2011 the biggest recorded earthquake in Japan, triggering a tsunami which partly destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Make an origami kimono or an origami crane.

Have a go at sumo wrestling, jujitsu, judo or karate.

Do karaoke!

Here is a list of Japanese games.

Make real sushi or playdough sushi.

10th February

Feast of St Paul’s Shipwreck. Malta has the most holidays in Europe. This one celebrates St Paul’s shipwreck (did you guess that already?) on Malta in 50 A.D. – so play Shipwreck.

Fenkil Day (Eritrea commemorates Battle of Fenkil, a victory in its quest for independence) – see 24th May

8th February


1950 the Staasi was established in East Germany –so play spy games


1960 the Hollywood Walk of Fame has its first six stars added – the above website has loads of ideas for Hollywood movie themed play.


1828 Jules Verne born


Prešeren Day (Slovenia):

The world’s oldest musical instrument was discovered in Slovenia – the Divje Babe flute. Make a flute! – as well as the world’s oldest wooden wheel, preserved in marshes.

The ancient Romans came in and decided Slovenia was part of Italy; later Huns and Germans invaded too. When the last Germanic tribe, the Lombards, moved out, Slavic tribes moved in.

Under King Samo they fought against the horse-riding Avars, and when Samo’s kingdom fell apart the Slavs founded the duchy of Carantania.

Bavarian missionaries came over and together the Bavarians and Slavs became part of the Carolingian Empire, named after Charlemagne/Charles the Great, which was the name for the Frankish Empire which itself was the name for the western half of the Roman Empire, the ‘Holy’ Roman Empire, after it fell. Confusing, right?

A Magyar, or Hungarian, invasion separated the western Slavs from the Slovenes in Carantania.

The Germanic king Otto defeated the Magyars and then Italy to become the new head of the Holy Roman Empire, and Carantania became Carinthia. It was separated from Bavaria and shrank to its present size.

It was owned by the Habsburgs and the counts of Celje/Cilli, but Turks kept raiding and the peasants tried to revolt several times because life was so hard. Between 1880 and 1910 about 1 in 6 Slavs emigrated.

In WWI many Slovenes were conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army, and many died either fighting or in Italian prisoner-of-war camps.

After WWI the Slovenes banded with the Croats and Serbs as the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell, and became Yugoslavia, in which Slovenia was the most industralised and productive.

In 1920 the southern Slovene-speaking Carinthia became part of Austria, and Italy was given other parts of Slovenia in exchange for joining the UK during WWI (I doubt the UK had the right to hand Slovenia over, but there it is). Slovenes in Italy had their language and culture violently oppressed.

In WWII Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis Powers (Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan). One general, Pietro Badoglio, was a particularly huge war criminal who used poison gases on Red Cross hospitals, etc., but only Greece, Yugoslavia and Ethiopia wanted him extradited as America and the UK saw him as an anti-Communist ally in Italy, so he was never extradited.


Yugoslavia and Slovenia became socialist states after WWII under leader Josef Tito, but because Slovenia again was the most productive, it felt like it was carrying the rest of the state and so requested independence.

Yugoslavia, under Slobodam Milosevic, tried to fight them for 10 days but in 1991 Slovenia became an independent, democratic nation. It joined the EU in 2004.

It has the most forests in Europe, including the remains of some primeval ones, because they are so valued that they keep logging to a minimum, and despite its small size contains 1% of the world’s organisms.

This day celebrates Slovenian culture. Try making a Prekmurska gibanica.