2nd May

Birth Anniversary of Third Druk Gyalpo (Bhutan celebrates the ‘father of Modern Bhutan’)

Lord Buddha’s Birthday (Hongkong – people wash baby Buddha statues in sweet tea and wish everyone happy birthday)

Madrid Day (celebrating the 2 May uprising against the French occupation in 1808) – maybe celebrate with churros and chocolate

Poland Flag Day – see 11th November


2nd March

1904 Dr Seuss born

Texas Independence Day (see 22 November for general America or try some Tex-Mex recipes)

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • Omizu-Okuri (Japanese Buddhist water-carrying festival, where river water is carried to the temple)
  • Burma Peasants Day (politicians discuss how to improve the lives of peasants, or farmers, and there are fairs of traditional crafts)
  • Victory of Adwa (celebrates Ethiopia defeating Italy in 1896)
  • Jamahiriya Day (Libya’s People’s Power Day, because Gadaffi liked to pretend he let the people rule themselves).

2nd December

1859 George Seurat born – so try pointillist paintings

UAE National Day

Hot Air Balloon Festival, Karnataka: For this we were able to buy one of those Chinese lanterns for £1 in our local cheap-stuff shop, but there are a lot of good websites on how to make your own if you’re feeling experimental.

Laos National Day:

Laos began as the Kingdom of a Million Elephants – Lan Xang, what a great name – in the 14th century, when the prince Fa Ngum took over the Vientane (now the capital) with some Khmer (Cambodian) warriors.

In 1548,  King Setthathirat had the That Luang built, a gold-covered Buddhist stupa that is now the national symbol of Laos.

The site had been a temple site since the 3rd century to house the breast bone of Buddha.

In the 1760s,  Burma and Siam annexed bits of Laos so it was divided into three.

In the late 19th century, France protected Laos from a Chinese army of bandits, the Black Flag Army, and in return Laos became part of French Indochina. France rebuilt That Luang from a French explorer’s detailed drawings, as it had been destroyed by an earlier Thai invasion.

In World War II the Japanese popped in for an occupation, but the French booted them back out.

From 1953 Laos was independent, but almost immediately America offered to fund the Royalist army against the Laos Communist movement, Pathet Lao. Obviously this sparked a civil war, which ended in the Communists winning.

Laos was also bombed and invaded by the US and US-supported South Vietnamese when North Vietnam invaded and occupied it during the Vietnam War. In 1964-73, the US dropped some 250 million bombs on Laos trying to get North Vietnam out of it, with 80 million bombs not exploding and leaving Laos a minefield (well done there America). This is more bombs than were dropped on the whole world during World War II, so well done there as well America.

From 1975 Laos became a socialist republic, controlled by Vietnam and supported by Russia. A lasting problem of the Vietnam War, aside from all the unexploded bombs, is Laos’s treatment of the Hmong people, who fought on behalf of the Royalists (i.e., against the Communists) and therefore the Laos socialist government felt they should all be hunted out and killed, just in case.

The Hmongs mainly fled to Thailand, but when America and the UN persuaded Laos to take them back, the Hmongs said, no thanks. So then the US said they’d take 15,000 (they feel a bit responsible for them seeing as they were kind of fighting on the American side). So that only left something like 185,000 in Thailand, either hiding in monasteries or held in deportation centres.

George Bush then amazingly stopped any more Hmongs from moving to America because they had been involved in armed conflict (even though they’d been fighting for the Americans – have I mentioned that?). Thailand continues to force the Hmongs back to Laos, where they claim they are attacked by the army. Not really a happy ending yet.

Here are 10 facts about Laos.

Hannukah begins (2018, 8 days) – we watched this video and a Sesame Street one. Here’s a printable dreidl and here’s the rules to the game.

2nd October

1950 Peanuts (Snoopy) first published



1890 Groucho Marx born




Mahatma Ghandi’s Birthday

Mehregan (Persian Festival of Autumn – more info here)

Batik Day (Indonesia)

Guinea Independence Day (from France, 1958):

First this was part of the Ghana Empire after the domestication of the camel allowed African tribes to trade and flourish.

Then it became the medieval Sosso kingdom, then the Mali Empire, then the Songhai Empire, one of the largest Islamic empires in history, which fell to Moroccan invaders who dissolved the area into smaller kingdoms.

France invaded in 1898. In 1957 Guinea voted for independence, and the French colonists and much of the infrastructure and money left. Guinea went with Soviet Russia and China, and capitalist countries like the US carried on helping it too.

Sékou Touré was the one-party leader and a bit mad, flitting between US/USSR support and imprisoning/exiling/executing opponents. After Touré died, Lansana Conté took power, turned away from socialism and freed some political prisoners. Recently the country has been affected by West African instability.

Try listening to Bembeya Jazz.

World Habitat Day (2017, first Monday in October): Can your kid design their ideal habitat? Probably…a sweetie room, a slide instead of stairs, a swimming pool….

2nd July

World UFO Day: can you build a recycled UFO?

1897 Marconi patents radio in London – so make a radio show.

2002 Steve Fossett completes a nonstop round-the-world flight in a hot-air balloon

Bahia (Brazil) Independence Day (from Portugal in 1822, a year later than Brazil). A famous Bahia tradition is wearing wish bracelets.

Curaçao Flag Day: Originally inhabited by Arawak (Carribean) peoples, Spain enslaved the whole lot from 1499. Then the Dutch came and used it as a trade centre and for salt mining.

Sephardic (Spanish) Jews emigrated here and impacted local culture. Slavery made the island a rich place for the colonialists, but Holland banned slavery in 1856.

Oil was found in 1914 and helped a lot. In 1954 Curaçao gained self-government under the Netherlands. It wasn’t until 1984 that they decided on a flag and a national anthem. From January 2014 the Lynx rocketplane will do space tourism.

Make ‘curaçao’ cocktails using blue food colouring.

Hemis Festival: Celebrating the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, who founded Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. Make a mask.


2nd June

1896 Marconi applies to patent his radio

1953 Elizabeth II crowned, the first major international event on telly. Check if your kid can recognise the queen and know that she appears on stamps and lives in Buckingham Palace. Maybe make a pretty crown and make your own stamps by tracing a shadow profile.

Festa della Republica (Italy celebrates voting for a republic after the fall of Fascism post-WWII)

Italy’s original Indo-European tribes were the Umbrians, Latins, Celts, Volsci, Samnites and Ligures, as well as some unique tribes that are not classified as Indo-European, like the Etruscans and Sardinians.

Rome began as an agricultural community in 753 B.C. and eventually spread from Britain to Persia.

Roman activities: Go to the library and get a book on ancient Rome or Roman myths, learn Roman numerals, build an amphitheatre out of Lego, wear a toga, make a mosaic. Are there any old Roman buildings near you?

In 395 A.D. the Roman Empire split into two parts, East and West. The eastern half became Byzantium; the west dissolved in 476 A.D. after being invaded by Germanic Barbarians, Goths and Vandals.

Italy was then taken by Byzantium, then the Germanic Lombards, then Charlemagne (also called Charles the Great)’s Frankish Empire (which is what France is now named after). Charlemagne became the new Holy Roman Emperor, a title which vied with the Pope for rule over western Christianity and Italy.

In 1176 northern Italy managed to become independent, pushing out the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa, while southern Italy, hugely involved in the Crusades, became a leading power in the Mediterranean, dominating the Oriental trade routes.

Southern Italy eventually became a united kingdom, while the north became the Signorie, city-states that fought a lot. In 1454 the signing of the Peace of Lodi brought peace to the Signorie.

Can you build a Lego Leaning Tower of Pisa?

The Renaissance began, with patronage of the arts by the Medici family and a lot of clever Greek people coming over to escape the Ottoman Empire. Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci are the most famous Italian Renaissance men.

Then Italy started fighting everyone, including itself; meanwhile, everyone else discovered America and new ways to get to the East, and Italy’s power and money started to disappear.

Spain owned Italy in 1559-1713, then Austria took over until 1796.

In the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon made Italy a client state of France, and he made his brother-in-law King of Naples (which was the name for the whole of the south at that point).

Italy allied with France and Prussia to get rid of Austria, and then while France was fighting Prussia Italy pushed France out too. Northern Italy became industrial and rich, southern Italy remained poor.

Italy began empire-building, taking Somalia, Eritrea, Libya and the Dodecanese (Greek islands).

Italy was instrumental in ending WWI with the Vittorio Veneto, a massive offensive which led to Austria-Hungary asking for the armistice.

Italy was now united, although it had lost some Italian people in the newly independent Yugoslavia, and had acquired many Slavs and German-speaking Tyroleans in the land it had accumulated during the war.

Then Italy went a bit nuts and anarchic, until the Nationalist Fascist Party led a coup to take power, and the king agreed, firing the old president and appointing the NFP’s leader, Mussolini.

Well, he banned all the other parties and most personal freedom, inspiring Hitler and Franco.

In 1935 Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, which led to Italy being kicked out of the League of Nations.

In WWII Italy sided with Germany and Japan (definitely the bad guys), and supported Franco during the Spanish Civil War.

The Allies invaded Sicily and moved up to fight Germany in the north; the Facist Party toppled but Mussolini still ruled north Italy for the Nazi Party until 1945 when both surrendered.

Italy had to give back its Yugoslavian and French territories it had gained in WWI, and all of its empire except Somalia.

During WWII Italy committed war crimes in Yugoslavia, Ethiopia and Greece, but got away with it because the Prime Minister, Pietro Badoglio (who was on the list of people who had led the war crimes, as he was a general in the war), was anti-Communist.

In 1946 Italy became a Republic, celebrated today. This meant the royal family had to leave.

In 1948 Italy didn’t vote Communist, which meant it received financial help from America’s Marshall Plan and its economy, totally ruined in WWII, was able to recover. Italy had its own Cold War though, and suffered from internal neo-fascist terrorism in the 1960s-’80s.

In the 1990s the political parties had to re-organise and re-brand themselves after voters got sick of the corruption and massive debts they were causing.

Other Italian activity ideas: Have a pizza party! The most Italian pizza is the Margarita, named after the Italian queen and showing the red (tomato), yellow (cheese) and green (basil) of the Italian flag. A tomato, cheese and basil salad is also a great way to celebrate today.

North Korea Children’s Day – see 27th December

2nd March

1904 Dr Seuss born

Texas Independence Day (see 22 November for general America or try some Tex-Mex recipes)

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • Omizu-Okuri (Japanese Buddhist water-carrying festival, where river water is carried to the temple)
  • Burma Peasants Day (politicians discuss how to improve the lives of peasants, or farmers, and there are fairs of traditional crafts)
  • Victory of Adwa (celebrates Ethiopia defeating Italy in 1896)
  • Jamahiriya Day (Libya’s People’s Power Day, because Gadaffi liked to pretend he let the people rule themselves).