1st April

April Fools’ Day

In Italy, France and Belgium, children try and stick paper fishes on people’s backs and shout ‘April Fish!’.

Our favourite ones include boiling an egg, eating it from the bottom side, then turning it over and presenting an empty one as breakfast in bed to my dad (he never ate boiled egg and this was the only day of the year I brought him breakfast in bed, but he was a good sport). The blog above has gone one further and filled the eggshells with jelly.

I also love the BBC’s flying penguins prank.

Or a sweet seasonal one is to get children to build a nest in the garden and the next day let them find eggs in it.

Here’s some other kid-friendly pranks and April Fool’s food.

Sizdeh Bedar: 13 days after the start of Nowruz (see 21 March) Iranians go out for the day to avoid the bad luck of the 13th day of the year (although Nowruz is no longer the New Year). Iranians also play pranks on this day and some think this is where our April Fools’ Day comes from. Go here for more info.

Edible Book Day – so make a lunch or cake based on your child’s current favourite book – let them help you design it! You’ll be wanting this Pinterest page.

1873 Sergei Rachmaninov born – so listen to Piano Concerto Nos. 1, 2 and 3 and Prelude in C-sharp Minor.

Islamic Republic Day (Iran)

iran-iraq-map

Iran, also called Persia by Westerners, comes from a Persian word Eran, which in Parthian was Aryan and meant noble. (So when Hitler said the Germans were the Aryan – or Iranian – race and symbolised the Nazis with a swastika, an ancient Hindu symbol ….I don’t know what he was doing but that should have been a good sign that he was not making any sense.)

Iran has had human inhabitants for at least 200,000 years. In the 7th century B.C. they became part of the Assyrian Empire based in Mesopotamia (Iraq and surrounding bits). The Iranians fought against this and formed the Median Empire, which made up most of Iran and a bit of Anatolia (Turkey)

 

In 550 B.C. Cyrus the Great took over and expanded the Median Empire into the Achaemenid Empire.

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It was massive:

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In 480 B.C. the Achaemenid Empire ruled over 50 million people, 44% of the world’s population at the time, the highest percentage of any empire ever.

In 334 B.C. Alexander the Greek invaded the Achaemenid Empire and defeated its last emperor, but in the middle of the 2nd century B.C. Iran grew into the Parthian Empire, which the Romans tried to quash as much as possible, then in 224 A.D. it became the Sassanid Empire, the last Iranian Empire before the rise of Islam.

(To be cont….)

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • Kha b-Nisan: An Assyrian spring festival (which they are now allowed to openly celebrate so that Turkey looks better in its EU application);
  • Odisha Day (a state in India)
  • Miyako Odori (Japan’s geishas perform cherry blossom dances)
  • Uzupis Day (part of Lithuania that declared itself independent in 1997)
  • Greek Cypriot National Day
  • Ghode Jatra (Nepal’s Festival of Horses)
  • 1867 Nebraska founded

31st March

1685 Johann Sebastian Bach born, so listen to his Lullaby, The Art of Fugue (keyboard), Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (organ), Brandenburg Concertos, The Well-Tempered Clavier, Goldberg Variations

1732 Joseph Haydn born, so listen to the Surprise Symphony

1844 Andrew Lang born – so read his Fairy Books

 

1889 the Eiffel Tower is officially opened – so build it out of ice-cream wafers, Lego, or string! Read Madeline in Paris.

 

Transfer Day (US Virgin Islands celebrates transition from Denmark to US)

The US Virgin Islands were originally inhabited by Caribs and Arawaks when Colombus ‘discovered’ it in 1493 and named it after St Ursula and her virgin followers. The Danish West India Company began to settle it from 1672, taking over from Spain, the UK, the Netherlands and France who’d all had a turn. The Danish made sugarcane using slave labour until slaves were abolished in 1848. After that the economy wasn’t so great, so when during WWI America worried that Germany would take the islands in submarine warfare, Denmark agreed to sell them to the US for $25 million. The US took possession on 31 March 1917.

Other events today that might inspire your play:

30th March

1820 Anna Sewell born, author of Black Beauty

1853 Vincent Van Gogh born

National Doctors Day (US)

 

Other events that might inspire your play today:

Palestine/Israel Land Day

Spiritual Baptist Shouters’ Liberation Day (Trinidad and Tobago celebrate repeal of law prohibiting the Spiritual Baptist faith. This is the only country in the world with a holiday for Shouters.)

29th March

1806 construction begins on the first US federal highway – so make a road around the house out of tape!

Other events today that might inspire your play:

  • 1886 Dr John Pemberton brews the first batch of Coca-Cola in his back garden – so try and invent a new drink!
  • Anniversary of the Death of Bartholomew Boganda (a leader of Central African Republic’s nationalist party, he fought for equal rights for black people and for the country’s independence from France. He died in a plane crash in 1959.)
  • Madagascar Commemoration of the 1947 Rebellion (against France) – see 26 June for history of country
  • The Day Maldives Embraced Islam (1153; myth here)

28th March

Easter Monday (2016): traditionally a day for rolling Easter eggs in races, or also sprinkling people with holy water blessed yesterday at church. In Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic this has devolved into Wet Monday, where boys wake up girls by throwing a bucket of water over them and hitting them on the legs with sticks.

Commemoration of Sen no Rikyu, founder of the Japanese tea ceremony – so have a tea party:

Dollshouse version:

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Fairy version:

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Or make mint tea or chamomile tea if you have it in the garden; and make it the sun tea way if it’s nice out.

Libya British Evacuation Day  – see 23rd October

26th March

Mothering Sunday (UK 2017): Originally this was the day you sent your servants home to their families so they could visit their mother church, but now it’s just our Mother’s Day. You’ll be wanting this Pinterest page. I like to have a nice walk somewhere pretty followed by afternoon tea on my Mother’s Day.

 

1484 William Caxton’s translation of Aesop’s Fables printed – listen here.

Bangladesh Independence Day:

Ancient Bengal was conquered by the Iron Age Mauryan Empire, then the Gupta Empire (which was the Golden Age of India, making scientific discoveries and Hindu culture), then the Gauda kingdom rose up.

The 8th-11th centuries were ruled by the Buddhist Pala dynasty, followed by a Hindu Sena dynasty. In 1204 a Muslim Turk army defeated the Sena dynasty and Bengal was ruled by Muslims for a while. Then it was part of the Mughal Empire, led by Turko-Mongols from what is now Uzbekistan, such as Akbar the Great.

Medieval geographers thought the original Garden of Paradise was at the mouth of the Ganges.

The Hindu Maratha Empire pushed out the Mughal Empire in the 18th century. They kept raiding Bengal, taking Orissa and Western Bengal and imposing a tax in return for leaving the rest alone.

Portuguese traders began to settle the area from 1537, and in 1757 the constant embarrassment that is the British East India Company took the whole area. We treated them terribly and crushed ‘mutinies’, like the ‘Indian Rebellion of 1857’ ((the Indians called it their First War of Independence) which brought the whole country under Empress Victoria’s rule.

In 1943 Japan occupied nearby Burma and caused a famine that killed 3 million Bengalis.

In 1947 Britain withdrew from Bengal and split it, the Hindu west going to India and the Muslim east going to Pakistan.

The Awami League was formed to promote Bengali rights; its president, Mujibur Rahman, was arrested and when he won a majority election in 1970 was blocked from taking office.

Pakistan’s preisdent, Yahya Khan, invaded East Pakistan and began a genocide of Hindus, Bengali-speakers and dissidents. America and India helped until Pakistan surrendered in 1971.

Since Bangladesh was formed, presidents were regularly assassinated, and in 2007 the military installed a neutral caretaker government to root out corruption. In 2009 a fair election was held and the Awami League’s Sheikh Hasina won.

Learn about the Royal Bengal Tiger; the national fruit is the jackfruit; the national tree is the mango tree.

Make a biryani for dinner.

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • Mali Day of Democracy – see 22nd September
  • Prince Kuhio Day (Hawaii) – see 11th June
  • Prophet Zoroaster’s Birthday (Founder of Zoroastrianism, 660 583 B.C.)