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

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

27th April

1749 Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks first performed

1810 Beethoven composes Fuer Elise

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)

26th April

1564 Shakespeare baptised (no birthday) –  I would definitely recommend this book and this DVD for young children. Oh, oh, oh and Oddsocks.

Tanzania Union Day:

Tanzania was made up of Tanganyika and Zanzibar in 1964. People have lived there for over 2 million years, and 2,000 years ago were making steel in a blast furnace.

From 1840 Zanzibar was a centre for the Arab slave trade, with 90% of the Arab-Swahili population enslaved. Later Germany came conquering about, creating German East Africa.

During WWI Britain tried to sneak in, but the Germans led a guerilla campaign against them – it didn’t matter, as Germany lost the war and Britain took their African colonies anyway. From 1961 Britain gave it independence.

The country is very mineral-rich, and perhaps famous for tanzanite mining.

mount_kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, is there – so why not go to your local highest point, have a picnic and figure out how much higher you would have to go to reach the top of Kilimanjaro.

tnz_serengeti_main

The Serengeti is also there: we love a Safari game which involves hiding Baby’s stuffed African animals around the house, then she goes off to explore with some cardboard binoculars and a pretend camera.

The national language is Swahili.

Their arts style, using brightly coloured bicycle paint and often featuring African animals, is called Tingatinga – have a go at some brightly coloured animal paintings yourself.

25th April

1719 Robinson Crusoe published

1983 Samantha Smith is invited to the Soviet Union by its leader Yuri Andropov – just read about her and feel inspired!

DNA Day (celebrating Watson & Crick’s publication of the structure of DNA). The blog above is really good.

Other events today that might inspire your play:

  • 1599 Oliver Cromwell born
  • Anzac Day (commemorates Australia and New Zealand Army Corps who died fighting WWI)
  • Sinai Liberation Day (Egypt: celebrates Israeli withdrawal from Sinai in 1982)
  • Faroe Islands Flag Day
  • Italy Liberation Day (by Allies from Mussolini’s socialist republic in 1945)
  • Portugal Freedom Day (from the Estado Novo in 1974, a right-wing Catholic oppressive government)
  • North Korea Military Foundation Day (North Korea’s army is the largest military organisation in the world, with nearly 9.5 million soldiers)
  • Red Hat Society Day (a social group for over-50s women in America, who wear purple with a red hat, like the Jenny Joseph poem)
  • Swaziland Flag Day
  • First Day of Summer (Iceland 2013, first Thursday after 18 April)

24th April

1184 B.C. the Fall of Troy – we found these very inspiring Lego videos with inpenetrable castles for Troy, dramatic battles and Trojan horses that Lego men can hide in for the Greeks

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • National Concord Day (end of 1990 rebellion in Niger)
  • Nepal Democracy Day
  • Kapyong Day (the UN, mainly Australia and Canada, defended South Korea against China in the Battle of Kapyong in 1951)
  • Gambia Republic Day
  • World Day for Laboratory Animals.

23rd April

St George’s Day:

We made a finger puppet show and dressed one of Baby’s teddy bears up as St George (cardboard helmet, sword, shield, and horse. I meant to make him a little chainmail top out of an old teatowel but didn’t get round to it.)

StGeorge

The story goes that a dragon lived near a village and brought plague and devastation on the inhabitants unless they appeased him with sheep and, when that didn’t work, children chosen by lottery. One day the king’s daughter was chosen in the lottery. The king offered the village his wealth to try and dissuade them; but the princess had to go.

St George turned up, luckily, and captured the dragon. He brought it back to the village (who I assume were all like “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”) and said he’d kill the dragon if they all converted to Christianity. They did so he did. The End.

What about strapping on some pillows and a helmet and trying some jousting (using a parent as a horse?). He is also the patron saint of Turkey, so they celebrate Turkey National Sovereignty and Children’s Day.

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • World Book Day (except in the UK cos we’re awkward)
  • Funafuti Bomb Day (Tuvalu): In WWII 680 people took refuge in the concrete walled, thatched-roofed church from a Japanese bombing raid. Fortunately an American soldier persuaded them to get into dugouts, as a bomb struck the building shortly after.