15th November

Palestine Independence Day (1988)

Palestine’s ancient history was influenced by the surrounding civilisations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Minoan Crete and Syria. It became part of Egypt’s New Kingdom in 1550-1400 B.C., then it broke away and Israel emerged from it, later splitting into North Israel and South Judah.

It became a part of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in around 740 B.C., which shortly became the Neo-Babylonian Empire. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed Jerusalem and took Judaen leaders away. When the Achmaenid Empire took over, the Judaen exiles were allowed to return to Judea. The Biblical story of this, ‘Return to Zion’, caused issues later as we shall see.

In the 330s B.C. Alexander the Great took over, then the Seleucid Empire, then the Jews took over and it became known as Iudaea. Then the Romans took over, and Jesus was crucified here in about 30 A.D. The emperor Hadrian joined Iudaea with Galilee to form Syria-Palaestina, and when Constantine became Christian his mum came here to build churches and make it a centre of Christianity.

Church of the Nativity, left.

Palestine was conquered by the Islamic Empire in 634 A.D. The Dome of the Rock was built in Jerusalem in 691, the world’s first great piece of Islamic architecture.

After that it was basically just fought over by everyone: Egyptians, Fatimids (a Shia Islamic empire), the Crusaders (defeated by Saladin), Mongols, and Ottomans. In 1832, Egyptian Khedive Muhammed Ali invaded,  but Britain came in in 1840 and made them give it back to the Ottomans. Then we did the Balfour Declaration, in which British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour said he supported Jews finding a home in Palestine, so long as it didn’t affect the religious or civil rights of the non-Jewish people living there already or of Jews still living in other countries.

In 1915 Britain invaded Palestine to wrest it from the Ottomans. We formally took the region in 1922; the non-Jewish population weren’t happy.

After WWII, Britain gave up the region, and the UN divided it into an Arab state, a Jewish state and a special regime for Jerusalem. The Jewish leaders agreed but the Arabs revolted and started a civil war. In 1948 the State of Israel was declared….but not its borders. Jordan, Egypt and Israel began to fight over these borders; 700,000 Palestinians fled and were unable to return as Israel wouldn’t let them back in.

In 1988 the Palestinian Liberation Organisation declared the State of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital (Israel, of course, also claims Jerusalem as its capital). 100 countries recognise it, but not Israel.

In 2000 Israel began building a security barrier along the West Bank to protect it from Palestinian suicide bombers. This is basically building a non-negotiated border. In 2004 Israel withdrew from the Gaza strip.

Learn about jinns or the stories of Juha

German Community Holiday (Belgium)

King’s Feast (Belgium)

Winter Lent (Eastern Orthodox)

Shichigosan: (Means seven-five-three) Japanese people give children aged seven, five and three these cute packs with a red-and-white candy which represents the gift of longevity. The packaging traditionally shows a crane and a turtle. There’s an activity sheet here.

Brazil Republic Day: – see 22nd April

We played football and watched a bit of the famous Rio de Janeiro Carnival, then we cut out paper ‘feathers’ from a magazine and stuck them on a cut-out magazine model so she looked like she was in the parade. You could make a virgin caipirinha or beijinhos or brigadeiros.


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