16th December

1770 Ludwig van Beethoven born famous for his 9 symphonies (First in C Major; 2nd in D Major; 3rd in E flat major; 4th in B flat major; 5th in C minor – probably most famous; 6th in F major – also famous; 7th in A major8th in F major; 9th in D minor) and Fuer Elise.

Las Posadas (the lodgings – a Spanish/South American 9-day celebration of Mary and Joseph looking for an inn)

Bahrain National Day (independence from UK, 1971)

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Bahrain was the home of the Bronze-Age Dilmun civilisation, linking Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, thought of as a holy land by the Sumerians.

It became part of the Persian Empire under the Achmaenids, and was an important pearl trading centre for ancient Greece, who called it Tylos.

Bahrain was one of the first nations to convert to Islam, in 628 A.D., after the prophet Mohammed threatened to invade.

In 899 A.D. the Qarmatians invaded, then nipped over to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, stole the Black Stone (a cornerstone of the Kaaba building in the centre of the Grand Mosque, which is said to have fallen from heaven to show Adam and Eve where to build their first altar). Later they returned it, having broken it into seven pieces. Nice one.

Then, you know, a whole bunch of other Arab tribes fought over it until the Portugueuse took over in 1521, but Abbas I of Persia kicked them out 80 years later.

Then Arab tribes fought over it again until Britain made it a protectorate, taking over completely in 1892. The Bahrainians revolted but when they settled down Bahrain become a trading hub.

In 1927 the Shah of Iran demanded power over Bahrain but didn’t get it. Bahrain fought for the Allies in WWII but afterwards began to resent British rule, and for some reason the Jews, who mainly fled.

In 1971 Bahrain gained independence. In 2001 the Emir granted elections and women’s votes, and released political prisoners. Bahrain has fought against the Taliban but opposed the war in Iraq and offered Saddam Hussein asylum. Shia Muslims got involved in the Arab Spring since 2011, protesting against the (minority) Sunni rule.

It is the most prolific publisher in the Arab world, publishing 132 books per 700,000 people (the rest of the Arab world publishes about 7 books per million people).

Victory Day (Bijoy Dibosh) (Bangladesh and India celebrate victory against Pakistan in 1971 – see more on 7th November)

Kazakhstan Independence Day (from USSR, 1991) – see 30th August

S. Africa Day of Reconciliation

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