1st August


Beginning of the harvest season, halfway between solstice and equinox. Named after the Irish god of light, Lugh, they originally include the Tailteann Games, in honour of Lugh’s mother Tailtiu who died of exhaustion after clearing the Irish plains for agriculture (maybe symbolising how the earth goddess dies back from here on in the year). Games included the long jump, high jump, running, hurling, spear throwing, boxing, contests in swordfighting, archery, wrestling, swimming, and chariot and horse racing, as well as craft competitions for storytellers, jewellers, etc.

It is traditional to eat bilberries on this day, and to climb a hill or visit a holy well.

It was the day you baked a loaf from the fresh wheat harvest and brought it to church to be blessed and then broken into four pieces, for the four corners of the barn, to protect the grain.



We also made a corn dolly from long grass and lavender.

Australian Picnic Day (2016, first Monday in August, after Chinese labourers working on the railway were freed from their contracts and offered citizenship as well as money to return to Hong Kong. They went for a picnic.)

Swiss National Day

Also today:

  • 1759 Joseph Priestley publishes discovery of oxygen – my kids love this experiment.
  • 1984 the Lindow Man discovered
  • Carribean Carnival celebrates end of slavery in British Empire – so do some calypso dancing; Anguilla/Barbados/Bermuda/Guyana/Jamaica/Trinidad and Tobago/British Virgin Islands/St Lucia Emancipation Days
  • Iceland Commerce Day – see 17th June
  • Benin Independence Day (from France, 1960) – see 10th January
  • Colorado Statehood Day (famous for rodeos and inventing cheeseburgers)
  • Yorkshire Day (definitely a day for tea and Yorkshire puddings)

30th July

1863 Henry Ford born so build some cars – these amazing ones are made from swing bins, this one is made from Lego and a balloon, and this one uses a battery.

1898 Henry Moore born so make some Playdo sculptures.

Vanuatu Independence Day:

Vanuatu was first inhabited by Melanesian (Pacific Coast islander) people. Portuguese navigator Fernandes de Queirós claimed it for Spain in 1605 and named it Espiritu Santo (Holy Spirit).

In the 1880s France and the United Kingdom claimed bits and agreed to share it as the New Hebrides. An independence movement started in the 1970s, and the Republic of Vanuatu was founded in 1980.

They have the John Frum cult, which basically says an American soldier will grant their wishes. Others worship Prince Philip. Cricket is very popular.

Morocco Feast of the Throne (see 18 November)

29th July

1907 the first Scouting camp: 8-day Brownsea Island camp. The boys were in four patrols: Wolves, Ravens, Bulls and Curlews, each with a different coloured knot on their shoulder.

They began the day at 6am with cocoa, exercises, prayers, then breakfast at 8am.

Activities were based on campaigning, observing, woodcraft, chivalry, saving lives, and patriotism.

The day ended with games, supper, campfire stories, prayers, 9pm bed.

They passed tests on knots, tracking, the national flag; Baden-Powell told campfire stories of his fighting in Africa.

1987 Thatcher and Mitterand agree to build the Channel tunnel – where can your kids build a tunnel?

International Tiger Day – so be tigers for the day:

If you can’t face hunting for your own dinner, you can always have tiger oranges.

Also today:

National Anthem Day (Romania – see 24th January)

National Thai Language Day – see 5th December – here’s how to say hello in Thai

St Olavs Day/Olsok (Norway and Faroe Islands)

28th July

NPG P1825; Beatrix Potter (Mrs Heelis) by Charles King

1866 Beatrix Potter born

1887 Marcel Duchamp born – do your kids think this is art?

Commemoration of the Great Upheaval (1755-64 Brits kicked out Acadians, French settlers, from Canada)

Ólavsøka Eve (Faroe Islands Parliament opens tomorrow on St Olaf’s Day, when there will be a boat race, Faroese chain dancing, etc.)

Anniversary of the Fall of Fascism: (San Marino, after WWII)

St Marinus founded San Marino when he built a church and monastery on Mount Titano, a secluded Alpine peak, in 301 A.D.

When Italy was being unified, San Marino protected those that were pro-unification, and this meant that Garibaldi let San Marino off the hook when it came to being part of Italy. San Marino made Abraham Lincoln one of its honorary citizens for trying to build a similar republic.

During WWI it remained neutral, which annoyed Italy so it cut its telephone lines. WWII it was neutral again.

In 1923-45 it was ruled by a fascist party; in 1945-57 it had the world’s first democratically elected Communist party.

It has no national debt, and makes a lot of income selling its own coins, its own Euros, and its own stamps to collectors. Their most famous dessert is the Torta de Tre Monti.

Independence Day (Peru from Spain):

Peru was home to the Norte Chico civilisation 3,000 years ago, the oldest civilisation in the Americas and one of only six known ancient civilisations in the world.

In the 15th century the Incas flourished, but in 1532 king Atahualpa was captured by Spanish conquistadors. Its silver resources and native slave labour made it valuable.

After it gained independence in 1821, it managed to find income through exporting guano (bird or bat poo).

Peru was defeated by Chile in the 1879-83 War of the Pacific (also involving Bolivia, over resources and land). Now it has problems with debt, drug-trafficking, inflation, human rights issues, corruption and all that.

Here is a nice site on the Incas for kids, and there are lots of crafts: make Peruvian beads, make a llama felt bag, try some weaving, metal tooling using disposable tinfoil containers.

27th July

1054 Siward, Earl of Northumbria, defeats Macbeth, king of Scotland – older kids might enjoy the BBC’s animated tales or Oddsocks. Actually there’s no ‘ might’ for the latter – kids aged 8+ (and adults) WILL LOVE THEM.

1940 ‘A Wild Hare’, Bugs Bunny debut

1870 Hillaire Belloc born – try this book, it’s lovely (and disturbing)

Finland’s National Sleepy Head Day, when the last person to wake up is woken with water, perhaps even being thrown into a lake.

North Korea Victory Day (over South Korea, 1953)

José Celso Barbosa’s Birthday: (Puerto Rico celebrates founder of their Republican party.)

Columbus found Puerto Rico in 1493, when it was inhabited by the native Taino. From the 16th century Spanish came to colonise the island and used the Taino for forced labour.

When they killed them off with smallpox, etc., they had to import African slaves to work for them. Spain tried to keep the islanders on side by allowing them to vote in Spanish elections, but the slaves kept revolting and the people wanted independence.

To try and dilute this, Spain offered free land to any Europeans wanting to settle on the island.

Around 1890 the US started to think about building a navy, and the Panama Canal, and tried to buy Puerto Rico and Cuba from Spain. Spain said no, but in 1898 America helped Cuba in their revolution, and Spain and America went to war (imagine that happening now).

This resulted in America taking Puerto Rico. The US offered Puerto Ricans American citizenship, but the Puerto Ricans thought this was just so the US could conscript them into WWI.

It is now a Commonwealth of the US, and no one’s really sure what that means. Ricky Martin is Puerto Rican.

26th July

1882 premier of Wagner’s Parsifal – here are some kids’ facts about Wagner

1951 Disney’s Alice in Wonderland premiers

Liberia Independence Day (1847 from America; weirdly this is a country populated by US slaves)

Maldives Independence Day (from UK, 1965). The lowest country in the world, and in danger from rising sea levels. It is a Muslim country, with laws against alcohol and eating pork, but these don’t apply to the tourist resorts.

Kargil Victory Day (India over Pakistan, 1999. Even though both had nuclear weapons, they used regular old warfare.)