26th January

Australia Day

Australia comes from the Latin australis, ‘southern’.

The first humans arrived here 48,000 years ago; when the Dutch came over in the 17th century (and called it New Holland), the natives were hunter-gatherer aborigines who believed in Dreamtime, when totemic spirits created the land.

James Cook claimed New South Wales for Britain in 1770. After losing our American colonies, the ‘First Fleet’ arrived to create a penal colony. Britain sent prisoners there until 1848.

The government took aboriginal children away from their parents to protect them from… um, their own culture, leading to the Stolen Generations. It was not until 1992 that aborigines were recognised as actually having any right to the land.

From the 1850s there was a gold rush.

Australia fought with Britain in WWI and WWII, but during this last Britain lost the fight against Japan and so Australia found a new ally in America.

They are not governed by Britain but in 1999 voted to keep our Queen.

This day is the anniversary of the first British settlement in 1788.

Learn about the Great Barrier Reef…


marsupials like koalas, kangaroos and wombats, monotremes like the platypus and echidna, as well as emus and kookaburras. Learn the kookaburra song! Have a letter ‘k’ day with koalas, kangaroos and kookaburras. Tell Dreamtime stories or try some Aboriginal rock art.

Here are some more activities:

Here are some Australian songsAustralian bird signs, a COOKIE map of Australia (you could also do this with playdough), make ANZAC biscuits, Lamingtons, even a digeridoo!….And here’s 10 more great Aussie activities.

Other events that might inspire your play:

India Republic Day (independent from Britain 1950) – see 15th August

Bikaner Camel Festival

Uganda Liberation Day – see 9th October

Duarte’s Birthday (Dominican Republic) – see 27th February

Michigan (founded 1837): That song. Henry Ford’s car factory. Detroit. 8 Mile Road and Eminem.

21st January

Jeff Koons born 1955 – so make a balloon dog


or a puppy made of flowers (we used scrunched up paper to make flowers and glued them to a dog shape).


Errol Barrow Day – Barrow was the Prime Minister who led Barbados to independence from UK. .

Our Lady of Altagracia (Domenican Republic: try merengue or bachata; baseball; orange cakes (as the painting of the Lady of Altagracia disappeared and reappeared in an orange bush)



Quebec Flag Day

1643 Abel Tasman reaches the Tonga islands – see 4th June

National Hug Day

19th January

Verdi’s The Troubadour/Il Trovatore premiers 1853

NASA sends the New Horizons probe to Pluto 2006 – so learn about Pluto

James Watt born 1736 – I thought he invented the watt but it was named after him; he actually invented a way of making steam engines more efficient, so maybe learn about steam engines

Edgar Allan Poe born 1809 – try this video?

Cezanne born 1839

Timkat (Ethiopia) – They celebrate Epiphany as well as Jesus’s baptism. They also wrap a model of the Ark of the Covenant (the chest in which were the stone tablets with the 10 commandments on) in cloth and carry it in a procession. Learn about the Ark of the Covenant and the 10 Commandments.

17th January

1912 Captain Robert Falcon Scott reaches the South Pole only to find the Norwegians had beaten him to it. On the way home he and his team will die of extreme cold and exhaustion.


Popeye first appears in comic 1929.

1706 Benjamin Franklin born, inventor of the lightning rod, the glass armonica (so try playing on glasses), cooling by evaporation and the idea of paying it forward, being nice to people so they are in a better mood to be nice to others, and many more firsts and ideas.

Minorca’s National Day

Celebrating the day Alfonso III (King of Aragon, Spain) conquered Minorca while it was being ruled by Arabs and sold the Muslims into slavery if they didn’t convert to Christianity.

During the 16th century Turks invaded and settled, and in the 18th century Britain repeatedly invaded until Spain booted us out once and for all in 1802.

Make carquinyolis (like biscotti), pastissets (flower-shaped cookies), flao (a sweet cheese pasty), panellets (almondy sweets served on All Saints’ Day), stuffed aubergine (Minorcans even have aubergine for dessert).

Patras Carnival

Begins in Greece, where they all dress up and go on a treasure hunt. So do a treasure hunt. In January in the UK, holly berries, willow tree buds (fluffy and white like rabbit paws), hazel catkins, viburnum flowers, winter jasmine flowers are all lovely treasure to find on a morning walk. Here’s a treasure chest to make yourself at Dollshouse Miniature Printables.

Congo National Heroes Day – see 30th June

15th January

Makar Sankranti (2017)

This is a Hindu harvest festival in India, and also marks the first day of spring.

The British Museum first opened (1759) – so visit a local  museum

Coca Cola (or the Pemberton Medicine Company) first incorporated 1889 – try baking a cola cake

The rules of basketball first published by its inventor James Naismith 1892 – play basketball;

The first Superbowl is played 1967 so play American football; you just need a cycle helmet, black marks under your eyes and socks for shoulder pads and some basic understanding of the rules (Superbowl party ideas here)

Martin Luther King, Jr born 1929

Korean Alphabet Day – so write your name in Korean

John Chilembwe Day (Malawi – see 6th July)

14th January

1886 Hugh Lofting born, author of Dr Doolittle

Orthodox New Year


Gujurat/Jaipur Kite Festival – so go fly a kite!

Pongal is a celebration of the end of the harvest in South India – if the weather is nice out, why not make a Pongal Kolam pattern in flour (rice flour for authenticity) outside your house to show your happiness. The birds and ants will eat the pattern and it will represent your inviting life into your house and living in harmony with all creatures.

Eat sweet pongal, a kind of rice pudding – this is my favourite bit of the festival. Traditionally it is cooked at sunrise,  and the moment the milk boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout of “Pongalo Pongal!”, throw in some freshly harvested rice grains in the pot and blow a conch shell. Amazing.

12th January

The National Trust founded 1895, so go visit one of their properties

A long-distance radio signal sent from Eiffel tower 1908make a radio or record your own radio station programme

Little Red Riding Hood, Gustave Doré

Charles Perrault’s birthday (1628), so read fairy stories.

Turkmenistan Remembrance Day – see 19th February