18th November

1307 William Tell shoots an apple off his son’s head

 

1928 short Steamboat Willie and Mickey Mouse’s birthday – find Mickey-Mouse-themed lunch ideas here.

 

2013 MAVEN probe sent to Mars

 

Latvian Independence Day: (from Russia, 1918)

Latvia had important access to the Baltic ports, which meant it tended to be attacked by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Sweden and Russia who all wanted it too.

From 1611 it was owned by Sweden, who were generally rather nice as you might expect of Swedes, the main change being that peasants started being educated.

Then it was taken into the Russian Empire, who also took all of its industry into Russia proper, until WWI , when Latvia became independent.

In 1939 Soviet Russia took Latvia into its protection, if it could be called that, replacing civil servants with Soviet Russians and deporting/killing thousands just in case.

In 1940 Latvia became part of the Soviet Union, and during WWII Nazi Germany took bits too. Post-war it was back to Soviet Russia, with all the deportations and repression that entailed.

In 1989-90 the USSR realised it wasn’t welcome and Latvia became independent again.

Latvia’s most popular sport is ice hockey. While they are a Christian country, they have a particular Latvian paganism called Romuva, and its followers are the Dievturiba, the Godskeepers.

You could tell stories from their folklore. They export a great deal of amber so you can talk about how that’s made. They invented the Namejs style of ring, as well as the Lielvarde belt whose symbols are said to explain the cosmos. You could try their sorrel soup.

 

Morocco Fete de l’Independance (Independence Day):

From the 6th century B.C. Phoenicians (Jewish traders in a purple dye from the Murex snail; they spread the use of the alphabet) settled and traded with Morocco.

From the 1st century B.C. it was part of the Roman Empire called Mauretania Tingitana (awesome name).

From the 6th century it was part of Byzantium. Umayyad Muslims from Damascus (in Syria) conquered Morocco; followed by a man named Idris, who formed the Idrisid dynasty and made Morocco a centre of Muslim learning.

Berber dynasties followed, and a bunch that claimed to be descendants from Mohammed, until in 1666 the Alouite dynasty united the country and still rule today.

Weirdly Morocco was the first country ever to recognise the US. From 1860 France and Spain started taking bits, and Moroccans fought for both countries in WWI and WWII, but after France exiled their sultan and replaced him with an unpopular one, Morocco really wanted independence; it gained this in 1956.

Spain left their bit of the Sahara but Algeria and the Polisarios (Spanish settlers) fought Morocco for it.

It’s still not really calmed down but there’s been a ceasefire since 1991. Cook some Moroccan food or make a little fez for a teddy bear. Try Andalusian classical music like Ziryab’s, or chaabi bands.

 

Also today:

  • Battle of Vertièrés Day (Haiti, 1803)
  • Oman National Day
  • Chinita’s Fair (Venezuela)
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17th November

Queen Elizabeth I acceded the throne in 1558

Freedom and Democracy Day (Czech Republic, Slovakia)

National Revival (Azerbaijan):

Azerbaijan means ‘Guardian of Fire’ in Persian. It has world-famous petroglyphs in Gobustan – can your children make some rock carvings?

azerbaijan

Azerbaijan has been part of the Scythian, Iranian Medes, Achaemenids and Alexander the Great’s empires. It was the first Muslim country in the world to allow operas and theatres and to give women the vote.

It became part of the Russian empire in 1813 until that collapsed after World War I; then it became the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. But in 1920 Soviet Russia decided they needed Azerbaijan for Baku (its capital)’s oil and so Azerbaijan was independent for fewer than two years! Baku supplied most of Russia’s energy in WWII. When Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, Azerbaijan declared its independence.

Azerbaijan music is called monody, mugham, meykhana and ashiq art, and they often play the saz. They hosted the 2012 Eurovision after winning 2011. Azerbaijani national dance is quite fun. The Azerbaijani carpet – try some weaving. A very Azerbaijanian meal would be pilaf with black tea to drink. Favourite games are football, wrestling, chess and backgammon.

16th November

1992 discovery of the Hoxne Hoard. Can you dig for treasure? If you have a budding archaeologist on your hands, a kids’ metal detector might be fun.

Estonia’s Day of Declaration of Sovereignty (do not let your children find out about the Estonian sport of kiiking)

Humans have lived in Estonia for at least 11,000 years. The Romans called the natives the Aesti tribe, which might be who Estonia is named after. In the Viking Age the Estonians were known as Oesilian pirates.

Denmark got annoyed by the Estonian Viking raids, and took it over with the help of Germany in 1207 in the Livonian Crusade, to eradicate Paganism and make it a Christian country. The capital, Tallinn, is said to mean Taani Linna – ‘Danish town’ in Estonian.

In 1343 the Estonian natives tried to rise against the Danish and German rulers, so the king sold it to the Teutonic Order, a Germanic crusader state for 19,000 Koeln marks. There was a series of wars fighting over control of various bits of Estonia, so that by the 1620s the Estonian population was reduced to about 140,000 people.

In 1629 Estonia came under Swedish rule, and the Swedish king gave the peasants better rights. The Protestant Reformation arrived a bit before (1520s), literacy improved and under Swedish rule they gained a university and a printing press. The Estonians call this period the ‘Good Old Swedish Time’.

In 1721 Sweden lost Estonia to Russia. Serfdom was abolished and education became more widely available. The first national epic, Kalevipoeg, was published in 1862.

After WWI Estonia declared its independence, but the Bolsheviks (Lenin’s Russian Communists) fought them about it for 14 months.

In WWII Russia installed lots of military bases for ‘mutual defence’ and then easily took it over. Russia still claims it did not invade Estonia and that it gave Russia rule voluntarily. Then, fearing Germany would take it, destroyed as much of it as possible. Maybe a quarter of the population died at this time, and less than 30% of conscripted men survived.

Germany then ‘helped’ Estonia kick out the Russians – then Germany took it over. Then Russia took it back again in 1944. Tens of thousands of people were deported and not allowed back until the 1960s, after Stalin’s death. Half a million immigrants from other parts of Russia came to help with the military and industry.

In 1989 they had a Singing Revolution, and more than 2 million people formed a human chain through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

https://inspiredkdramafan.wordpress.com/tag/estonia/

On 16 November 1988 Estonia declared itself independent. Russia recognised its independence in 1991, and the last units of the Russian army left in 1994. Estonia joined the EU in 2004.

Skype was invented in Estonia.

Iceland’s Language Day, so maybe learn a bit of Icelandic and learn about volcanoes and geysers

Oklahoma founded (1907): Oklahoma was given to the Native Americans…then the whites moved in anyway. State Capitol building, the Grapes of Wrath.

11th November

Armistice: Wear a poppy and talk about what it means; make a poppy picture; observe two minutes’ silence. We watch these two sand art/ shadow theatre pieces.

 

Pocky/Pretz/Pepero Day (Japan and South Korea): you can make your own using this recipe.

1889 Washington State founded: where Starbucks and Microsoft come from.

Angola Independence Day (from Portugal, 1975)

Angola was first inhabited by hunter-gatherers, and then the Bantu people. The Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão arrived in 1484, and the Portuguese soon established forts, settlements and trading posts – mainly for trading in Angolan slaves. Nice.

(to be continued…)

Poland Independence Day (1918)

Karneval/Fasching opens

Maldives Republic Day

9th November

Day of the Skulls (Bolivia: skulls of family members watch over the house three years after burial; on this day they are given offerings and taken to Mass)

Inventors Day (Germany, Austria, Switzerland)

Cambodia Independence Day

Cambodia was a collection of little kingdoms heavily influenced by India until the Khmer Empire grew in the 9th century. Its capital was Angkor, the world’s largest pre-industrial capital.

Sri Lankan monks introduced Buddhism in the 13th century. Angkor was abandoned in 1432 after being sacked by the Siamese Ayutthaya Kingdom. The Khmer kings became vassals of the Siamese and Vietnamese, who continuously fought over it until the Cambodian king Norodom I asked the French for protection in 1863.

Cambodia became part of French Indochina, except for when Japan invaded in WWII.

Cambodia gained independence in 1953. When the French were handing out independence, the Mekong Delta went to the Vietnamese, even though 1 million ethnic Khmers live there.

Cambodia remained neutral in the Cold War, but King Sihanouk let Communists find sanctuary during the Vietnam War going on right next door.

In 1970 King Sihanouk was ousted and Cambodia became anti-Communist. So North Vietnam attacked Cambodia, and the king’s old supporters joined in and the country dissolved into civil war. Meanwhile the US and South Vietnam bombed Cambodia, you know, to help.

Cambodian Communism was called the Khmer Rouge, under the leader Pol Pot.

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In 1975 the Khmer Republic surrendered to the Communists, and Cambodia was renamed the Democratic Kampuchea. The cities were evacuated and everyone was forced to march to work on farms. About a quarter of the population were killed, and areas of the country are now known as the Killing Fields.

In 1978 Vietnam invaded because the Khmer Rouge had been trying to take back the Mekong Delta. In 1991 the UN took over to try and sort everything out.

In 1993 Sihanouk was restored as king, and the UN set up free elections with the government in charge of power. In 1997 the co-Prime Minister Hun Sen had all the non-communist MPs assassinated, but otherwise things have worked ok.

Allama Muhammad Iqbal Day (Pakistan – birthday of national poet)

Germany’s Schicksaltag (Day of Fate because historically important things happened on this day)