1st December

IIIIITTTTT’S AAAAADDDVEEEENNNNTTTTT

I love these DIY Lego advent calendars. This little advent village of candy-box houses is cute too. This little advent tree has clues to where treats are hidden around the house. You can also put slips of paper with Christmas activities written on them, like:

  1. Write Santa a letter
  2. Visit Santa
  3. Dance to Christmas songs
  4. Make Christmas cookies and bring them to a relative’s house
  5. Make playdough Christmas trees
  6. Watch a Christmas film like Polar Express, the Snowman, Muppets Christmas Carol, the Grinch, Nativity, It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, etc.
  7. Make playdough snowmen
  8. Get ready for bed earlyish, but on the pillow there’s a ticket to see Christmas lights. Then you all lump in the car in pyjamas.
  9. Make gingerbread houses or gingerbread nativity.
  10. Get the Christmas decorations out!
  11. Make cranberry-popcorn garlands for an outdoor Christmas tree for the birds.
  12. Make Christmas cards
  13. Take a Christmas photo
  14. Design paper snowflakes or snowflake ballerinas.
  15. Make Christmas presents for the relatives
  16. Make fake snow out of white bread crumbs, cornflour, ground rice, Epsom salts, glitter, magic snow, polystyrene balls, etc.
  17. Christmas science labs (ideas here and here)
  18. Play with a nativity set
  19. Make Christmas crackers
  20. Make the whole house smell of Christmas – put slices of orange, cranberry, evergreen twigs, cinnamon, nutmeg in a pan of water and boil it.
  21. Play Christmas minute-to-win-it games.
  22. Tell Christmas jokes.
  23. See a panto.
  24. Track Santa (Google also does a good one).

Also today:

  • 1885 Dr Pepper first served
  • 1895 Henry Williamson born, author of Tarka the Otter (age 9-11)
  • 1913 Ford uses first moving assembly line
  • Rosa Parks Day: 1955 Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat
  • 1990 the two entrances of the Channel Tunnel meet 40m below seabed
  • 1761 Marie Tussaud born – so make playdough sculptures of each other
  • Central African Republic National Day
  • Chad Day of Liberty and Democracy
  • Portugal Restoration of Independence Day
Advertisements

1st November

1887 L.S. Lowry born

All Saints Day

Day of the Innocents (Mexico/Haiti remember the firstborn males killed by Herod, mainly with pranks and flour fights (Alicante))

Independence Day (Antigua and Barbuda, from UK in 1981)

Day of the Bulgarian Revival Leaders – see 22nd September

D Hamilton Jackson Day/Liberty Day/Bull and Bread Day (US Virgin Islands remember man who helped them gain workers’ rights and free press under Denmark’s rule)

1st September

sr-71-1

1974 SR-71 Blackbird flies from New York to London in under 2 hours

titanic_wreck_bow

1985 wreckage of Titanic discovered

Eritrea Anniversary of the Start of the Armed Struggles (start of war of independence from Ethiopia, 1961-91)

Amerindian Heritage Month (Guyana)

Slovak Constitution Day

Uzbekistan Independence Day

Russian Knowledge Day

Luxembourg City Kermesse

1st July

1903 first Tour de France – so go out on a family bike trip

1908 SOS becomes international distress call – try it in semaphore

Ghana Republic Day:

Ghana is one of the world’s largest exporters of gold and cocoa. The area was originally inhabited by the Akan people, who traded in the plentiful gold. It became part of the Ashanti Empire, and in the 19th century the Portguese, Dutch, Spanish and British had built forts there. It was known as ‘White Man’s Grave’ though due to all the tropical diseases, which put a lot of the invaders off.

But not the Brits, oh no. We captured it in 1856 and named it the Gold Coast. The Akan fought us a lot until they were defeated in the War of the Golden Stool (best war name ever, I think you’ll agree; it refers to the Ashanti throne). They did not give up, and gained independence in 1957.

Activities: Learn about kente cloth, Afro-jazz, highlife, hiplife, dances such as Adowa, Kpanlogo, Azonto, Klama, and Bamaya

Sir Seretse Khama Day: Sir Seretsa Khama was born in Bechuanaland, Botswana, and became the king of the Bamangwato people from age 4 after his father’s death. He studied at Balliol College, Oxford, and studied to become a barrister at the Inner Temple.

He met and married Ruth Williams. South Africa did not like the king of the country next door being married to a white lady seeing as it had just banned interracial marriages.

To get some peace and quiet, as Britain was in charge of Bechuanaland, they investigated Khama’s ability to be a chief. The report found he would be a good chief, so the Brits hid the report and exiled him anyway. Khama was eventually allowed back once he renounced his throne… then he ran for President. And won.

In 1966 Botswana gained its independence and Khama was a very good President, focusing on economic development through beef, diamonds and copper, and remaining anti-corruption and anti-violence.

Virgin Islands’ Territory Day: The Virgin Islands are short for St Ursula and Her Eleven Thousand Virgins Islands, which was the snappy title Christopher Columbus gave them in 1493 (she’s a martyr who put off marrying her husband by saying she wanted to do a pan-European pilgrimage first. And she took 11,000 virgins with her, as you do.  When they got to Cologne it was in the middle of being invaded, and they were all shot by some Huns. So now there’s the Basilica of St Ursula in Cologne which is decorated with the alleged 11,000 virgin’s bones. Eat that, Laurence Llewellyn Bowen.)

The Islands were first inhabited by the Arawak, Carib and Cermic peoples, all of whom died from European disease, brutal slavery or mass suicide. So instead the Danish plantation owners used slave labour on them to make sugarcane until slavery was abolished in 1848.

During WWI America worried Germany might sneak in and use them as a submarine base and so bought them from Denmark for $25 million. The islands get a lot of earthquakes and tropical cyclones.

Activites: Listen to scratch bands and quelbe music, the cariso folk song, or St Thomas’ bamboula.

Burundi Independence Day:

Burundi was its own kingdom ruled by a Tutsi king until 1899 when it became part of German East Africa. Its king, Mwezi IV Gisabo, opposed this so the Germans helped his son Maconco lead a revolt against him; then Mwezi said ok, I’ll be part of Germany, so the Germans helped him defeat his son. Sorted.

From 1916, Belgium conquered the area and it was joined with Rwanda under Belgium and called Rwanda-Urundi.

On 1 July 1962 Burundi gained independence after Belgium allowed it to run its own democracy.

At that point the Tutsi king became head of state of a government made up of Tutsis and Hutus in equal numbers. In 1965 the Hutu prime minister was assassinated, and next door in Rwanda, a ‘social revolution’ in 1959-61 saw their Hutu government massacre all the Rwandan Tutsis they could find.

This prompted the Tutsi monarchy in Burundi to disallow Hutu members of parliament, so the Hutus tried to carry out a coup, so the Tutsis killed a whole bunch of Hutu politicians and intellectuals.

These back and forth killings and oppression continued until 1972, when bands of Hutus killed all the Tutsi civilians they could find and proclaimed a republic. Then the President and his army killed around 250,000 Hutus.

From then until 2006 the Tutsis and Hutus continued to assassinate each other at every opportunity and HIV has killed off a lot more. Burundi is one of the five poorest countries in the world.

Activities: Watch the Royal Drummers of Burundi perform. Go on a (pretend) gorilla trek – maybe take turns at being a gorilla hiding in the mountains (upstairs).

Canada Day: This is a celebration of the Brits uniting their colonies Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada together to become Canada in 1867. There is a Canada Day held in Trafalgar Square, London.

Activities: Play street hockey. Eat pancakes with maple syrup. Learn about Niagara Falls and moose and beavers and Canadian geese and mounted police officers.

Rwanda Independence Day:

Similar to Burundi, Tutsi kings dominated until the Germans colonised the area in 1884, then Belgium from 1916.

Aside from the Tutsis and Hutus, there are also a group of aboriginal pygmy hunters called the Twa. The Tutsis and the Hutus were more like social castes, with the Tutsis the kings and the Hutus the lower classes, and well-behaved Hutus could become Tutsis.

However, Belgium thought they were different races and introduced identity cards labelling the Tutsis, Hutus, Twas or Naturalised (the latter for Belgian settlers?) and no one could move ranks anymore.

In 1959 the Rwandan Social Revolution occurred, in which the Hutus started killing the Tutsis. And vice versa and back and forth and so on until 1990 (by which point the Twas had been forced out of their forests and had mainly become beggars) when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (Tutsis) invaded and initiated the Rwandan Civil War.

At some point there must have been a ceasefire because the ceasefire ended in 1994, when the President’s plane was shot down and the Rwandan Genocide began –  up to a million Tutsis, Hutus and even Twas were killed by the government.

The RPF fought back and eventually regained control of the country.

Activities: Watch an umushagiriro, or cow dance, or the intore, or dance of heroes. Learn about an imigongo, a cow dung art. Can you make a nyakatsi house for your doll, with mud walls and a grass thatched roof?

Other events today:

  • Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day – see 1st October
  • Somalian Foundation of the Republic – see 18th May
  • Suriname Abolition of Slavery Day – see 25th November
  • Madeira Day (used to be part of Portugal, now independent; this is also celebrated in England)
  • 1858 Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace present papers on evolution

1st May

May Day:

Make a maypole:

a98441_0501_play2_vert

http://www.marthastewart.com/268025/may-day-celebration

Or a mini maypole:

may-day-diy

http://studiodiy.com/2012/04/24/diy-mini-maypole-cakes/

Crown a May queen:

etsy

or make a Green Man:

169f02dce8f6d59279ee2080b876f782

Make May baskets and deliver them secretly to neighbours:

 

skiptomyloumayday2

 

howtomakealeiforkidseasy2

1785 Kingdom of Hawai’i’ formed, so make a lei for Lei Day

 

1840 Penny Black, the first official stamp, released

 

1930 Pluto, dwarf planet, named

 

1931 Empire State Building dedicated

 

Festa Dei Serpari (Cocullo, Italy, celebrates its patron saint St Dominick by catching snakes, removing their fangs then using them like tinsel decorations on statues of saints).

Other events today:

  • 1948 North Korea established – see 27th December
  • Kazakhstan People’s Unity Day – see 30th August
  • Latvia Constitution Day – see 18th November
  • Marshall Islands Constitution Day
  • Dia del Trabajo (Day of the Worker, Latin America)
  • 1328 Scotland gains independence from England – see 30th November
  • 1707 Scotland and England join up again into Britain
  • 1786 Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro first performed

1st March

St David’s Day (Wales):

Make daffodils out of egg cartons:

daffodil lollipops:

daffodil candy cups:

daffodil windmills:

daffodil cupcakes:

Or try some St David’s Day Welsh food, like Glamorgan sausages:

and Welsh cakes:

Eat them up with Welsh love spoons:

A bit about Wales: it has been inhabited for at least 29,000 years. About 12,000 years ago, in the last Ice Age, when sea levels were lower, hunter-gatherers could just walk from Europe to the UK across Doggerland, a piece of land now under the North Sea. The last glacier in Wales melted away about 10,000 years ago, and the rising sea separated it from Ireland. 8,000 years ago Britain became an island.

Eventually the Stone Age people became Bronze Age people, and then Iron Age Celts. The Romans arrived in A.D. 48 and stayed for 300 years, extracting gold, copper and lead but not really ever being allowed to Romanise the people as they did in England.

In 383 A.D. a Roman general called Magnus Maximus left Britain with all of its troops and governors, planning to rule as Emperor from Gaul. As he left he bestowed ruling power on local authorities, and so he is seen as one of the Welsh founding fathers for appointing local people the power to rule Wales. I think….

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Romano-Britons formed little kingdoms which fought with each other to define their boundaries. In the 8th century King Offa built Offa’s Dyke which still roughly separates Wales from England.

In 853 the Vikings raided the island of Anglesey but the king of Gwynedd defeated them, allied with them and invaded the north of Wales with them.

In the 11th century Gruffydd ap Llewellyn became the only Welsh king ever to rule over the entire territory of Wales. Then William the Conqueror took England, and gave lords with their own ruling laws reign over the area near Wales – this was called the Welsh Marches.

Llewellyn Fawr became the first Prince of Wales following the Magna Carta in 1215, but in 1282 Edward I invaded and the Welsh princes ended with Llewellyn’s head being carried through London on a spear. Under Henry VIII Wales became part of the UK.

In the Industrial Revolution Wales became a centre for copper mining and iron smelting – Parys Mountain in Anglesey had the world’s biggest copper mine. Later slate quarrying and coal mining became successful. Just before the First World War, Wales was at its peak coal production, exporting millions of tons a year. In WWII 10% of all young male conscripts were sent into the coal mines – they became known as the Bevin Boys.

In 1925 the political party Plaid Cymru was formed, seeking independence from the UK. In 1955 Cardiff became Wales’ capital city. In 1965, despite 34 out of 35 Welsh MPs voting against it, a Welsh village was flooded to make a reservoir for Liverpool, because there were simply more English MPs who voted for it. In 1997 the Welsh National Assembly was set up to decide how Wales’s budget is run. Wales defines itself as a country, although Prince Charles’s title of Prince of Wales suggests it is really a principality.

Read Celtic myths or the Mabinogian; play rugby!

 

 

Martenitsa (Bulgaria): On 1 March, Bulgarians celebrate Baba Marta Day. Baba Marta is a mythical old woman whose moods affect the weather in March. They make martenitisi and give them away to friends and family.

They tie them round their wrists as a symbol of good fortune, health and prosperity. When they see a tree in blossom, or a stork or swallow, they remove the bracelet and put it on the tree or under a stone. The wearing of the bracelet is also supposed to be a wish for spring, to make winter pass more quickly.

Romanians celebrate Martisor in a similar way, with red and white or black and white bracelets that they wear for the first 12 days of the month to represent prosperity for the next 12 months. They often have little talismans tied onto them to represent what they want in the year ahead. They also make a Martisor tort.

 

1810 Frederick Chopin born – here’s a beginner’s guide.

 

National Pig Day (US): Make a piggy bank:

or learn about the Three Little Pigs:

 

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • Iceland’s Beer Day – see 17th June
  • Bosnia-Herz Independence Day – see 25th November
  • S. Korea 1 March Movement Day (celebrates resistance to Japanese occupation) – see 17th July.

1st February

1709 Alexander Selkirk is rescued from a desert island and inspires Robinson Crusoe (age 14+ but try a graphic novel)

1893 Edison finishes building the Black Maria movie studio, so make your own film studio. Give a kid a camera and help them make a play with their toys.

First day of Quebec Winter Carnival, with sledging, ice castles, ice canoeing, etc.

It’s the first day of National Bird Feeding Month – see 5th Jan for ideas.

Malaysia Federal Territory Day:

The first Malaysians were Negritos, a Southeast Asian people found to be the people most genetically different from Africans.

Trade and settlers came from India and China, bringing Hinduism and Buddhism.

In the 2nd century the north was the kingdom of Langkasuka; in the 7th-13th centuries the south was the sea-ruling Srivijara empire.

Islam came from the 14th century, and in the 16th an independent Malacca state was ruled by a former prince of the Srivijara.

In 1511 Malacca was conquered by Portugal, then the Dutch. In 1786 the British East India Co. was given Penang, then we gradually took the rest with gentlemen’s agreements where the British ‘advised’ the rulers, who had to follow the advice because of treaties.

In WWII Japan invaded, and afterwards Malaysia wanted to be independent, so the rulers were restored under British protection. Chinese rebels, supported by the Malayan Communist Party launched guerrilla attacks to oust the Brits.

In 1963 it became federal states. In 1969 Malays murdered thousands of Chinese in race riots, so the Prime Minister changed the economy so it favoured the Malays so they wouldn’t feel so resentful. Of course, now the other races feel resentful.

Malaysia means the home of orangutans – learn about them!