1st March

St David’s Day (Wales):

Make daffodils out of egg cartons:

daffodil lollipops:

daffodil candy cups:

daffodil windmills:

daffodil cupcakes:

Or try some St David’s Day Welsh food, like Glamorgan sausages:

and Welsh cakes:

Eat them up with Welsh love spoons:

A bit about Wales: it has been inhabited for at least 29,000 years. About 12,000 years ago, in the last Ice Age, when sea levels were lower, hunter-gatherers could just walk from Europe to the UK across Doggerland, a piece of land now under the North Sea. The last glacier in Wales melted away about 10,000 years ago, and the rising sea separated it from Ireland. 8,000 years ago Britain became an island.

Eventually the Stone Age people became Bronze Age people, and then Iron Age Celts. The Romans arrived in A.D. 48 and stayed for 300 years, extracting gold, copper and lead but not really ever being allowed to Romanise the people as they did in England.

In 383 A.D. a Roman general called Magnus Maximus left Britain with all of its troops and governors, planning to rule as Emperor from Gaul. As he left he bestowed ruling power on local authorities, and so he is seen as one of the Welsh founding fathers for appointing local people the power to rule Wales. I think….

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Romano-Britons formed little kingdoms which fought with each other to define their boundaries. In the 8th century King Offa built Offa’s Dyke which still roughly separates Wales from England.

In 853 the Vikings raided the island of Anglesey but the king of Gwynedd defeated them, allied with them and invaded the north of Wales with them.

In the 11th century Gruffydd ap Llewellyn became the only Welsh king ever to rule over the entire territory of Wales. Then William the Conqueror took England, and gave lords with their own ruling laws reign over the area near Wales – this was called the Welsh Marches.

Llewellyn Fawr became the first Prince of Wales following the Magna Carta in 1215, but in 1282 Edward I invaded and the Welsh princes ended with Llewellyn’s head being carried through London on a spear. Under Henry VIII Wales became part of the UK.

In the Industrial Revolution Wales became a centre for copper mining and iron smelting – Parys Mountain in Anglesey had the world’s biggest copper mine. Later slate quarrying and coal mining became successful. Just before the First World War, Wales was at its peak coal production, exporting millions of tons a year. In WWII 10% of all young male conscripts were sent into the coal mines – they became known as the Bevin Boys.

In 1925 the political party Plaid Cymru was formed, seeking independence from the UK. In 1955 Cardiff became Wales’ capital city. In 1965, despite 34 out of 35 Welsh MPs voting against it, a Welsh village was flooded to make a reservoir for Liverpool, because there were simply more English MPs who voted for it. In 1997 the Welsh National Assembly was set up to decide how Wales’s budget is run. Wales defines itself as a country, although Prince Charles’s title of Prince of Wales suggests it is really a principality.

Read Celtic myths or the Mabinogian; play rugby!

 

 

Martenitsa (Bulgaria): On 1 March, Bulgarians celebrate Baba Marta Day. Baba Marta is a mythical old woman whose moods affect the weather in March. They make martenitisi and give them away to friends and family.

They tie them round their wrists as a symbol of good fortune, health and prosperity. When they see a tree in blossom, or a stork or swallow, they remove the bracelet and put it on the tree or under a stone. The wearing of the bracelet is also supposed to be a wish for spring, to make winter pass more quickly.

Romanians celebrate Martisor in a similar way, with red and white or black and white bracelets that they wear for the first 12 days of the month to represent prosperity for the next 12 months. They often have little talismans tied onto them to represent what they want in the year ahead. They also make a Martisor tort.

 

1810 Frederick Chopin born – here’s a beginner’s guide.

 

National Pig Day (US): Make a piggy bank:

or learn about the Three Little Pigs:

 

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • Iceland’s Beer Day – see 17th June
  • Bosnia-Herz Independence Day – see 25th November
  • S. Korea 1 March Movement Day (celebrates resistance to Japanese occupation) – see 17th July.
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27th February

Dominican Republic Independence Day

In about 650 A.D. Tainos came from South America to the Dominican Republic. Then Caribs drove the Tainos to the north-east Carribean in the 15th century.

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In 1492 Christopher Colombus arrived, bringing the Spanish, smallpox and measles, and generally conquering by disease. His brother Bartholomew built the city of Santo Domingo, Western Europe’s first settlement in the New World.

The Spanish used the island for plantations and to launch other conquests around the Americas. By the 18th century the population had risen from a few thousand to 40,000 white landowners, 25,000 black freedmen, and 60,000 slaves.

French buccaneers arrived and took the western side. France eventually owned the whole island, but the west bit, then named Saint-Domingue, revolted against France and became independent Haiti.

In 1805 Haitians invaded Santo Domingo. In 1808 Napoleon invaded Spain, and Santo Domingo’s Spanish settlers revolted against French rule. Britain helped, and that part of the island was returned to Spain.

They later declared themselves independent as Spanish Haiti, and wanted to be part of Gran Colombia, but Haitians invaded and took over.

The Haitians, led by Jean-Pierre Boyer abolished slavery and nationalised a lot of property owned by settlers, the Spanish Crown and the Church. Boyer drafted all young men into the army, collapsing the university system, and taxed everyone heavily.

In 1838 Jean Pablo Duarte led the fight for independence with a secret society called La Trinitaria, comprising him, Matías Ramón Mella and Francisco del Rosario Sánchez.

On 27th February 1844 they declared themselves independent from Haiti (who of course carried on invading, but still…), backed by Pedro Santana, a cattle rancher who became general of their army.

Santana, and a wealthy official named Buenaventura Báez, both decided they were now in charge. Santana wanted to reunite Santo Domingo with Spain, Báez with America.

Santana succeeded, leading to the War of Restoration in 1863, this time helped by Haiti who didn’t want to live next door to a colonial power again. Spain gave up in 1865.

In 1916 America thought the Dominican Republic were doing a terrible job by themselves and invaded. They controlled the republic until 1922, building roads but not really gaining popularity.

The republic then had a dictator, Trujillo, who did a lot of good like improve healthcare and housing, education, etc., but was also a bit murdery as dictators often are. He ordered El Corte, the murder of any Haitians living on the Dominican border (we won’t mention that he was a quarter Haitian himself).

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On 25 November 1960 Trujillo murdered 3 Mirabel sisters for opposing his regime. He also tried to assassinate the Venezuelan president, and in 1961 was assassinated himself.

Worried that another Communist Cuba might be created, America invaded to supervise elections. In 1960 Joaquin Balaguer became president and was quite oppressive, killing 11,000 people, but at least he wasn’t Communist, eh? Besides, they liked him and he was President on and off until 1996. Since then they’ve started to get the hang of things, and their economy and democracy seem to work.

The national dance is Merengue; the national music is Bachata; baseball is their favourite sport, while tourists love their year-round golf courses.

25th February

1897 Peter Llewelyn Davies born (after whom Peter Pan was named)

 

Kuwait National Day:

Kuwait was part of the Parthian (Iranian/Persian) Empire from 123 B.C. and the Sassanid Empire (the last pre-Islamic Persian empire) from 224 A.D.

By the 14th century it was part of the Muslim caliphate (religious rule). It was part of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire from the 17th century.

The current ruling family in Kuwait are descendants of its ruler in 1756, Sabah I bin Jaber.

In 1899, the Sheikh worried that the Ottoman Empire would take over completely, and so Kuwait became a protectorate of the UK.

Large oil reserves were discovered in 1937 and after WWII the country became quite wealthy because of it.

In 1961 Kuwait became independent. Iraq cheekily said, well, now Kuwait is ours, but Britain said haha, no. Kuwait then tried a bit of democracy and then the emir said haha, no.

Magically – even though when the UK was in charge it did a terrible job of negotiating Kuwait’s boundaries and left it sharing swathes of land with Saudi Arabia – and even though that land is full of oil – magically, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia share it without warring about it. Which I love.

In the 1980s Iran and Iraq were at war with each other, which helped Kuwait as they could focus on selling oil while those two messed about with guns.

Kuwait supported Iraq, and Saddam Hussein, and deported thousands of their Iranian Shi’ite expats to avoid internal terrorism protests.

However, Kuwait did expect to paid back for supporting Saddam ($65 billion), which he did not like, and he invaded them in 1990. This led to the first Gulf War, with America and 34 other countries bombed Iraq and Kuwait until Iraq pulled out, setting fire to all the oil wells they could find as they did.

Kuwait paid the US coalition $17 billion to say thanks. The destruction caused by the Iraqi army had filled the Persian Gulf sea with oil and the smoke and damage from the fires was atrocious.

Over two-thirds of people living in Kuwait aren’t Kuwait citizens, which is a bit weird. They have the best freedom of press in the Middle East, and women can vote, stand in Parliament and don’t have to wear a burka.

Pearl fishing used to be a very important trade for Kuwait until the Japanese started pearl farming – so make little pearl oyster cakes.

Or try this ‘pearl sensory play’ with tapioca pearls from bubble tea or water beads from a florist’s:

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • Kitano Baika-sai – geishas perform a tea ceremony beneath the plum blossom;
  • Philippines People Power Day – see 30th December
  • Georgia Soviet Occuption Day – see 26th May

11th February

Venice Carnival starts, 2017, so make a Carnival mask:

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http://www.guidepatterns.com/paper-plate-masks-creative-ideas.php

1942 Glen Miller’s ‘Chatanooga Choo-Choo’ first to receive a gold record for selling more than a million copies

US Inventor’s Day

Japan National Foundation Day:

Japanese call Japan Nippon, which means ‘sun-origin’ so it’s also called Land of the Rising Sun.

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Japan is actually made up of 6,852 islands!

First evidence of humans was 30,000 years ago. Buddhism came over in the 3rd century.

From about 1200 A.D. a ruling warrior class of samurais emerged, called shoguns. Everyone was very fighty, and there was a century of civil wars called the Sengoku period.

In the 16th century the Portuguese reached Japan for the first time. From 1590 Japan was united into one nation.

From 1603 codes of conduct were issued for the samurai classes to try and stop them from doing things like killing someone just for an insult, as they had been doing until now.

From 1639 Japan isolated itself from the rest of the world to try and stay united. This is called the Edo period.

In 1854 the American Navy arrived and made the Emperor agree to trade with them. The Japanese people were cross about this, and it led to the Boshin War, with the shogun resigning and Japan was then ruled by the Emperor Meiji.

Japan became an industrialised world-power and kept invading nearby countries to expand its power. The Emperor Taisho was a bit elderly so they introduced a democracy so that parliament could rule.

In WWI Japan was one of the Allies, but when it invaded Manchuria we all thought that was a bit much, so Japan left the League of Nations and by WWII Japan had flipped and was on the Nazis’ side. They agreed not to fight with Russia, but they invaded China a lot, with the Nanking massacre a particular low point.

They invaded French Indochina to stop France from supplying arms to China, so America stopped sending oil to Japan, so Japan bombed Pearl Harbour and brought the US into WWII.

Russia gave up its treaty not to fight Japan and took Manchuria; meanwhile, America dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered.

The Allies put all the Japanese colonists back in Japan and prosecuted war criminals. Since then Japan has gone all liberal and democratic, and even has a bit in its constitution where it renounced the right to declare war. Imagine if everyone did that.

In 2011 the biggest recorded earthquake in Japan, triggering a tsunami which partly destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Make an origami kimono or an origami crane.

Have a go at sumo wrestling, jujitsu, judo or karate.

Do karaoke!

Here is a list of Japanese games.

Make real sushi or playdough sushi.

10th February

Feast of St Paul’s Shipwreck. Malta has the most holidays in Europe. This one celebrates St Paul’s shipwreck (did you guess that already?) on Malta in 50 A.D. – so play Shipwreck.

Fenkil Day (Eritrea commemorates Battle of Fenkil, a victory in its quest for independence) – see 24th May