5th April

1792 Easter Island discovered by the Dutch: this is a volcanic island made from three volcanoes – so make a volcano island!

It doesn’t really seem to have been populated in 1200 by Polynesians. These inhabitants built the moai, the famous Easter Island statues – so build some out of playdough!

easter island

They believed that the dead provided for the living if the living would likewise make offerings to them.

But then they massively deforested the island, lost the trees big enough to make new canoes, could no longer fish and so ate all the birds until they were all extinct too. Now Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens is helping reforest it with original tree species from pollen and DNA samples, which is clever.

After that a new cult emerged, the Bird Man cult, from Hawaii, in which the winner of a competition to collect Sooty Tern eggs from an islet, swim back to the island, and climb a cliff back to the village were the chosen ones to be able to ask the dead for blessings – maybe make an obstacle course inspired by this competition?

Peruvian slave raiders took half the island’s population, and then smallpox and tuberculosis reached the island. By 1871 97% of the population were dead; missionaries and sheep farmers bought the land left by the deceased.

Alexander Salmon, an English-Jewish-Tahitian, ended up ruling the country just by owning the most land and employing nearly everyone on his coconut plantation – and then he sold the island to Chile.

Most of the island then became a private sheep farm and then a base for Chilean navy. In 1966 the island was finally opened up to its inhabitants. Then in 1973 it was put under martial law under Pinochet. Now times seem better but the natives would still like more equal rights.

Qing Ming, when the Chinese sweep the tombs of the ancestors, go on spring outings, and fly kites and cut their kite strings to let the kites fly away for good luck. This coincides with a 3-day Cold Food Festival where you are not supposed to light any fires so the new fires can be started with fresh wood. Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan also celebrate similar festivals. Why not try a picnic with Chinese-style food if the weather’s nice out? Kids always love eating with chopsticks.

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