15th August

1939 Wizard of Oz premiers

1858 E. Nesbit born, author of Five Children and It and The Railway Children

The first day of the Flooding of the Nile

Obon Festival (Japan)

Burryman Day (Scotland)

Congo Independence Day (from France, 1960): The Congo was first inhabited by Pygmys, then by Bantu-speaking tribes who traded with Europeans. The area north of the Congo river became the French Congo, and France took a lot of its resources, and built a railway to the ocean for which the labour cost thousands of lives. During the Nazi occupation of France, Brazzaville, Congo’s capital, became the capital of Free France. After its independence, Congo became a socialist state. From 1992 it had a democracy, but in 1997 civil war broke out and since then democracy’s been a bit iffy.

Weirdly the Democratic Republic of Congo/Congo-Leopoldville/The Congo is next door to the People’s Republic of Congo/Congo-Brazzavile/Congo. The former is the most populous Francophone country in the world.Bantu-speaking Stone-Age and Iron-Age people displaced indigenous Pygmy tribes and became the Kingdom of Lupa, rich from ores. Leopold II of Belgium decided he owned the Congo and then exploited it a lot. If the natives didn’t meet his rubber-producing quota the Belgian army chopped their arms off. Britain told Belgium off and the Belgian parliament took over, improving rights and economy. They got independence from Belgium in 1960. Later they became Zaire, with US support because they were anti-Communist, even though the President Mobotu was a corrupt dictator. Since 1996 there’s been all kinds of civil war, somehow involving the Rwandan Hutus and Tutsis. In 1998, the Second Congo War involved 9 African countries and 20 armed groups, and has killed 5.4 million, although 90% were from disease rather than fighting.

India Independence Day (from UK, 1947):

India is the 2nd most populated country in the world. India is named after the Indus river, and the word ‘Hindu’ is closely related. The first humans appeared 30,000 years ago.

The first civilisation in India was the Indus Valley Civilisation, 2500-1900 B.C. This was followed by the Iron Age when the Vedas, the oldest Hindu scriptures, were written, around 1700 B.C. and the caste system was invented, wherein people were put in order of importance: priests, warriors, free peasants and traders, and lastly the impure indigenous tribes people.

Around 600 B.C. Buddha and Buddhism appeared. In the 3rd century B.C. the Mauryan Empire took over a lot of India. The Roman Empire traded with the dynasties in southern India. In the north, Hinduism made women inferior to men.

In the 4th and 5th centuries the Gupta Empire saw leaps in sculpture and architecture, Sanskrit literature, medicine, science and maths.

In the 6th and 7th centuries the first devotional hymns were created in the Tamil language and became so widespread they influenced all modern Indian languages. Hinduism became more popular again and ‘temple towns’ sprang up, visited by royalty and pilgrims.

After the 10th century Muslim armies arrived from Central Asia (all the -stan countries), eventually ruling a lot of India from the Delhi Sultanate. This Sultanate didn’t really repress its non-Muslim subjects and repelled Mongol invaders who were ruining everywhere else, so it was quite good.

However it kept trying to expand into southern India, which unified into the Vijyanagara Empire, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, to ward them off.

In the early 16th century the Delhi Sultanate fell to the Mughal Empire, led by Central Asian warriors who again turned out to be overall quite nice – fairly peaceful and taxation in silver leading to a larger and stronger economy.

But Sikhs and Marathas (Hindu warriors) eventually rebelled; the Maratha Empire was the next strong empire in India.

In the 18th century the English East India Company controlled India’s seas and trade – it eventually took over Bengal. By the 1820s England owned most of India through the East India Company. Instead of exporting manufactured goods, as India had always done, it was now made to sell us raw materials.

The East India Company brought education, railways, canals, but also raised taxes and looked down on Indian culture, so there was an Indian Rebellion in 1857. After that the British government took over and the Company was dissolved.

One million Indians served on the British side in WWI. After that, Gandhi became the leader of India’s non-cooperation movement to gain independence from Britain.

Indians also fought with us in WWII, and afterwards gained independence in 1947, after being partitioned into Muslim and non-Muslim countries – Pakistan and India.

India is now one of the fastest growing economies


Learn an Indian language – Hindi. See your name in Sanskrit. Watch some classic Bollywood dances – can you copy the moves? What about bhangra? Explore the Himalayas – would you get on this bus? Find out about the Taj Mahal.

What does your kid think about Indian beliefs? Do they think reincarnation could be real? What about karma? If you have a little girl, would they like to wear a sari?

Native sports include kabaddi, kho kho, pehlwani, gilli-danda,

Try some yoga!

Eat lentil dahl and naan bread.

Liechtenstein National Day

Liechtenstein had Gallic tribes like the Helvetii, then became part of the Roman Empire. The region was given to the Counts of Hohenhems by the Hapsburg dynasty who ruled the area from 1264.

In the early 17th century Karl I of Liechtenstein was made a prince of the land, then just called Schellenberg and Vaduz. He renamed the land after his family’s Liechtenstein Castle in Austria. The princes of Liechtenstein never actually visited the country for the first 100 years.

In the early 19th century the Holy Roman Empire was defeated by Napoleon, and Liechtenstein came under French control. The princes of Liechtenstein no longer owed feudal service to the Holy Roman Emperor, but was part of the Confederation of the Rhine, part of the First French Empire.

After that confederation was dissolved, Liechtenstein because part of the German Confederation under the Austrian Emperor.

After WWI Liechtenstein formed a monetary union with Switzerland.

After WWII the Liechtenstein rulers had to sell their own possessions to raise money, but now Liechtenstein is one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

Also today:

  • Assumption [into heaven] of the Blessed Virgin, a public holiday in many Catholic countries
  • Equatorial Guinea Constitution Day
  • N./S. Korea Anniversary of Liberation (from Japan, 1945)
  • Victory over Japan Day (US)

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