5th December

St Nicholas Eve: make Stutenkerls and put your shoes out for St Nicholas (but watch out for Krampus).

California gold rush 1848 – try a gold panning game at home;

Thailand National Day:

Thailand used to be called Siam. From the 1st to the 13th centuries it was part of the Khmer Empire (Cambodia). The first Thai kingdom was the Sukhothai kingdom from 1238; this was overtaken by the Ayutthaya kingdom, which became the most wealthy city in the East because it was so welcoming to foreign traders, especially the French merchants from Louis XIV.

In 1765 a Burmese army popped in to destroy everything, like the libraries and art treasures and historical archives, so that’s a shame.

After that King Rama I the Great established the Thai capital at Bangkok and rebuilt the economy by turning almost a third of his own people into slaves.

In the 19th century Thailand managed to resist France and Britain, although Britain took its peninsula which is now part of Malaysia.

During World War II Japan invaded to get to the Malay frontier, so Thailand let them through after Japan promised to help them get their land back from Britain and France.

Thailand then declared war on the US and the UK (brave) but kept up a resistance movement against Japan. Japan made about 240,000 Asian labourers and Allied prisoners of war build a bridge from Thailand to Burma, during which 115,000 of them died from atrocious working conditions, so it is now called the Death Railway.

After the war and during the Cold War, Thailand was on America’s side.

Thailand’s national religion is Buddhism, and their date is 543 years ahead of ours because they count from Buddha’s era rather than Jesus’. In Wat Panang Choen is the world’s biggest solid gold statue, a 19-metre high Buddha.

Try making a 2D Buddha out of gold leaf or tinfoil. Popular sports in Thailand include Muay Thai boxing and Takraw. Try some Thai food.

Haiti and Dominican Republic Discovery Day


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