6th July

Comoros Independence Day:

The first settlers were Africans and Austronesians arriving by boat in the 6th century A.D., followed by all sorts of nationalities and cultures.  In the 9th/10th centuries each island had one central village; in the 11th-15th centuries trade with Madagascar and the Middle East caused a population growth and towns appeared.

In the 16th century Portugal built a fort there; in 1793 Magalysy warriors from Madagscar raided the islands for slaves.

In 1841 France decided it owned the Comoros. On 6 July 1975 Comoros declared itself independent, except for Mayotte which decided to stay French.

Over the next 30 years there were 20 coups, presidents were assassinated, French paratroopers had to be called in, all that stuff. French-trained gendarme Mohammed Bacar seized Anjouan in 2001, staged a vote to confirm his power, tortured thousands that disagreed with him, African Union soldiers had to come in and he fled in a speedboat. How exciting.


Comoros are the world’s largest producer of ylang-ylang – can you make your own perfume from garden flowers? The Comoros are also famous for the prehistoric deep sea fish known as the coelacanthe, thought to be long extinct, but discovered earlier this century in these waters.

Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Jan Hues

(public holiday in Czech Republic: after Jan Huss was burned at the stake for being a Protestant, Hussites rebelled against the Roman Catholics and defeated five papal crusades in 1420-31. 100 years later, 90% of the Czech people were Hussites.

Wife-Carrying Championships

Anniversary of the Coronation of King Mindaugas/Lithuania Statehood Day (6 July 1253, the first Grand Duke of Lithuania and the first and only King of a unified Lithuania)

Malawi Republic Day:

Malawi was first settled by Bantu-speaking hunter-gatherers around the 10th century. After 1600 Malawi began trading with the Portuguese. In the mid-19th century about 20,000 people were enslaved each year by the Arab-Swahili slave trade.

David Livingstone arrived in 1859 and thought the Shire Highlands, south of Lake Malawi, would be nice for Europeans to live, so a bunch of English missionaries came over.

By 1891 Britain had Malawi as a ‘Protectorate’ (protecting it from Portugal), and renamed it Nyasaland. In 1953 we stuck Nyasaland together with Northern and Southern Rhodesia and called it the Central African Federation.

Dr Hastings Banda led nationalist sentiment against this union, and in 1961 was elected president. On 6 July 1964 Malawi became independent with Banda as President-for-Life. He actually didn’t do a terrible job and the economy did well for a landlocked over-populated country with no mineral resources. In 1993 Banda finally agreed to a referendum and since then it’s been a democracy.

Watch the National Dance Troupe.

Marshall Islands Fishermen’s Holiday

So make a fishing game:

The first night of Ivan Kupala Day (Ukraine, Belarus, Russia celebrate St John the Baptist, 24th June, because of their awkward love of the Julian calendar). Young people jump over bonfires; girls float wreaths of flowers lit with candles down rivers to foresee the future of their relationships by the current’s pull; and go into the woods looking for magical fern flowers.

Tell the folktale of St John’s Eve and listen to ‘Night on Bald Mountain’.

First day of San Fermin (Pamplona, Spain), a festival famous for its bull-running, as well as ‘El Struendo’, when everyone gathers in the town centre and makes as much noise as possible, and a parade of gigantes y cabezudos.


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