25th March

Palm Sunday (2018) and the beginning of Holy Week


Maryland Day: so make cookies or read Edgar Allen Poe.

Tolkien Reading Day: You know what you have to do.

Waffle Day (Sweden) – Because Vårfrudagen (“Our Lady’s Day”) sounds a bit like Våffeldagen (waffle day). Nine months before Christmas, Mary fell pregnant, hence today is Our Lady’s Day or the Annunciation. So eat waffles!

Or go to the library and find out… where do babies come from?

Heck, why not get Mary out of the nativity set and throw her a baby shower!

Greek Independence Day (celebrating the symbolic outbreak of the War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire in 1821) – see 28 October for history and activities.

Belarus Freedom Day – see 3rd July

British Summer Time begins (2018) – clocks go forward, so the kids might technically give you a lie in! So learn about time:


25th October

1881 Pablo Picasso born – we love this book.

Grenada Thanksgiving gives thanks for when their Communist government was overthrown and their Prime Minister murdered, and the US (and Jamaica) came and bombed them. Then they got a democratic government and it’s that they’re being grateful for on this day. Grenada is known as the spice isle, and is especially famous for nutmeg, so maybe try making nutmeg ice-cream or nutmeg pancakes. Here is an alcohol-free Grenada punch for kids! Older kids might like to do a blindfold test and see how many of the spices in the spice cupboard they can recognise.

Also today:

  • Lithuania Constitution Day – see 11th March
  • Day of the Basque Country
  • Taiwan Retrocession Day (Japan handing back to China in 1945) – see 10th October
  • Kazakhstan Republic Day – see 30th August

25th September

1066 King Harald defeats the Norwegian Vikings in Yorkshire at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. He’s killed at Hastings three weeks later, but this is seen as the end of the Viking Age.

1903 Rothko born.

Math Storytelling Day – resources here and here. I really like the Bedtime Math page and this maths story series is so cute.

25th June

1910 Stravinsky’s ‘The Firebird’ ballet premiers

1852 Gaudi born

Slovenia Statehood Day (see 8 February);

Croatian National Day: Croatia’s famous for cravats (named after the Croatian word for Croatia),

Dalmatians, and Pag sheep’s cheese.

You could also bake ‘Licitar’ hearts and decorate as gifts;


try a Moreska sword dance (using wooden spoons for swords, perhaps).

Mozambique Independence Day: Mozambique led a guerilla war against Portuguese rule in 1964. Ten years later, they finally managed to take control and in 1975 any remaining Portuguese were ordered to leave and take no more than 20kg of luggage. Then they wasted another 20-odd years with a civil war.

Despite great natural resources, Mozambique has the lowest GDP per capita and is one of the worst countries for human development or equality. Mozambique people make handmade instruments out of wood or animal bone, like drums or horns. They also make elaborate masks for dancing. What about stilt-walking too, like the men of Makua? Mozambique was the greatest producer of cashew nuts.

Tunisia Republic Day: At the beginning of recorded history, Tunisia was occupied by Berber tribes, and from the 10th century B.C. Phoenicians and Cypriots settled there and founded the famous city of Carthage (featuring in Virgil’s Aenid, in which the heartbroken Queen Dido builds herself a funeral pyre where she throws herself upon the sword of her lover, Aeneas, when he remembers he’s supposed to be nipping out to found Rome. Original drama queen.)

Following the Battle of Carthage in 149 B.C., Romans controlled Tunisia and it grew into a great exporter of grains, olive oil and ceramics.

At the beginning of the 8th century, Muslim Arabs conquered it and founded their city of Kairouan, which has the world’s oldest standing minaret, the Great Mosque of Kairoan, the most ancient and prestigious sanctuary in the Muslim West.


However, at the turn of the first millennium these rulers abandoned Tunisia for Cairo, and a warlike Arab Bedouin tribe called the Banu Hilal invaded and laid waste to the land, reducing it  to arid desert. In the late 16th century the country became a pirate stronghold.

Tunisia was then controlled by Spain and then the Ottoman Empire (Turks), but in 1869 it declared itself bankrupt. In 1881 France invaded and it became a French protectorate.

During WWII the German/Italian armies were defeated here, though with many US losses.

Tunisia became independent in 1956. Despite being officially a democracy (aren’t they always?), it was pretty much an authoritarian dictatorship and in 2010 Tunisia was the first to rebel in the Arab Spring. They are now ruled by a human rights activist.

Activities: Be a 16th-century Barbary pirate. Weave (Tunisians famous for their beautiful woven rugs). Listen to some Malouf music.

Virginia state founded (1788): Jamestown was the first English settlement; Virginia is named after Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen. The Franklin & Armfield Slave Market was here. The Pentagon. A flag with a boob out.

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

25th November

Suriname Independence Day

Originally settled by indigenous people (?), in the 16th century British, French and Spanish explorers arrived.The Dutch and the English established plantation colonies there in the next century. They argued about who owned what, and eventually decided that the Dutch would keep Suriname, which they named Dutch Guiana, and the British would keep New Amsterdam, now more familiar as New York. I mean, we kiiiind of agreed, but we also invaded a couple of more times. Worth a shot.

The Dutch plantation owners relied on African slaves to grow coffee, sugar, cotton and cocoa. Some slaves escaped, and became the Maroons, fairly successful new tribes living in the rainforest. They kept coming back to raid the plantations, take away more slaves and kill plantation owners, until the Dutch agreed to give them their own legal land and sovereign status.

In 1863-73 the Netherlands abolished slavery and freed the slaves. Most slaves then left for the capital, Paramaribo, and were replaced by workers imported from the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and India. Chinese and Middle Eastern workers arrived in the 19th and 20th centuries. This makes Suriname, for all its small size, one of the most ethically diverse places in the world.

During WWII America occupied Suriname to protect its bauxite mines. In 1975 Suriname finally gained independence from the Netherlands. Nearly a third emigrated to the Netherlands, fearing that it would be worse off alone. And yes, there was fraud and military coups, including as one ‘telephone coup’ where the military leader rang up the government to dismiss them, racial tension, civil war between the Maroons and the army.

It is the smallest sovereign state in South America and the only one where a majority speak Dutch.

Famous places in Suriname include the nesting site of the giant leatherback turtle, who come to the Galibi Nature Reserve to lay their eggs; and a cathedral that’s one of the world’s largest wooden buildings.

Bosnia-Herz National Statehood Day:

First inhabited by Neolithic Illyrians, conquered by Rome in A.D. 9, by the Middle Ages this area was being fought over by Hungary and the Byzantine Empire.

In 1463 it fell to the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and a native Serbian Muslim population began to dominate.

By the late 17th century it was the front of the Empire and so kept being fought over.

From 1875 a peasant uprising in Herzogovina spread to involve many Balkan states and Great Powers until the Treaty of Berlin put it under Austro-Hungarian rule. This led to Gavrilo Princip assassinating Franz Ferdinand and sparking WWI.

Then it became part of Yugoslavia, invaded by the Nazis, and around 350,000 Serbs were killed in the Holocaust.

Josip Broz Tito led a communist resistance and was supported by Allies. When Soviet Russia fell, Yugoslavia broke up. Serbs wanted to stay with the Yugoslav federation; Bosniaks and Croats wanted independence. This led to the war 1992-5 that decimated Sarajevo and was termed a genocide: Serbs against mainly Bosnian Muslims.