21st June

Solstice

Science: It’s going to be the usual demonstration with the Earth as a tennis ball or marble and the Sun as a football or gym ball. You know the drill.  The sun is at its most northern point from the equator. The most northern parts of the earth have their longest day – in the Arctic the sun never sets; the southernmost parts have their longest night – in the Antarctic the sun never appears.

Activities: Build a Stonehenge (or just visit it, if you’re near).

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2595920/From-Niagara-Falls-Great-Barrier-Reef-worlds-famous-treasures-built-LEGO-new-Brick-Wonders-book.html

http://www.firstpalette.com/Craft_themes/People/miniaturestonehenge/miniaturestonehenge.html

Native Americans put teepees in a circle to symbolise the cosmos on the solstice – that might be fun too if you have a lot of spare bedsheets.

In Northern Europe, the Solstice is a big deal and a good excuse for a party.

  • Bonfires (and jumping over bonfires),
  • visiting and decorating wishing wells,
  • gathering herbs because they are especially potent.
  • Austria has a spectacular procession of ships;
  • Brazil’s Festa Junina involves a lot of dancing quadrilles;
  • Sweden gets out a maypole (in June?);
  • in medieval times the French celebrated with a cat-burning ritual;
  • in Jersey they banged a brass pan to ward off evil, and we all know a tiny bairn who would enjoy doing that.
  • Hunting for magic fern blossom;
  • washing the face with morning dew to be beautiful all year;
  • making flower wreaths and throwing them on lakes;
  • balancing an egg at the exact moment of the solstice … oh, there are lots more ideas here and here.

 

Greenland National Day

Greenland was so named by Erik the Red, a Norwegian exiled from Iceland, who hoped the name would attract other settlers and he wouldn’t be so lonely. Actual Greenlanders call their country Kalaallit Nunaat, meaning land of the Kalaallit people.

At first Greenland was inhabited by stone-age Eskimos in 2,500 B.C.

http://365daysoflearning.weebly.com/on-the-go/day-92-gt-erik-the-red

In 986 Erik the Red arrived with other settlers. These Norwegians accepted Danish rule when Norway and Denmark formed the Kalmar Union. It was a hard place to live – very cold!

From 1300 Thule people arrived from Alaska, bring dog sleds and whale harpoons.

Even though by the 18th century all the Norse people had long since died and actually Europe hadn’t had any contact with Greenland for centuries, when it was rediscovered Denmark was like, “IT’S STILL OURS BY THE WAY.”

In WWII Denmark was taken over by Nazi Germany, and America occupied Greenland to protect it. In the 1950s America built a big army base there as part of the Cold War defence.

In 2009 Greenland gained self-rule, while Denmark controls its foreign affairs and defence. Denmark also pays them 3.2 billion kroner a year for welfare and investment.

Greenland’s Inuit people catch around 175 whales a year. It has polar bears, Arctic foxes and hares, and seals. There are only about 56,000 humans, and as Greenland is the world’s biggest island it is also the least densely populated country in the world.

Greenland’s traditional sport is Arctic Sports, a kind of wrestling; they also love handball.

Schoelcher Day:

The French West Indies/Antilles honour the French abolitionist Victor Schoelcher’s achievements in helping end slavery with a sailboat race, fireworks, music, etc.

Togo Day of the Martyrs: Togo gained independence from France in 1960.  They have mainly animistic beliefs, carve beautiful statuettes (Google Ewe or ibeji) and make beautiful batiks, which could be fun to do.

Bolivian New Year! and We Tripantu (Mapuche New Year, Chile)

New Hampshire founded 1788

Go Skateboarding Day

International Surfing Day

National Aboriginal Day (Canada celebrates the Inuit and Métis and First Nations)

World Music Day

21st January

Jeff Koons born 1955 – so make a balloon dog

balloondog-magenta

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

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

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)

 

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Quebec Flag Day

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

National Hug Day

21st December

Forefathers DayMayflower lands in Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1620

1872-6 HMS Challenger expedition sets off from Portsmouth, discovering many new things about the ocean

Winter Solstice (2016, the shortest day of the year – this is the first day of winter.

São Tomé Day

São Tomé and Príncipe were uninhabited when they were discovered by the Portuguese around 1470.

sao20tome20map

São Tomé is named after St Thomas (today is St Thomas’s Day) and Principe was originally called Santo Antão (after St Antony) but in 1502 it changed its name to Ilha do Príncipe after the Portuguese prince to whom sugar taxes were paid.

The Portuguese imported slaves to grow the sugar and by the mid-16th century it was the world’s main exporter of sugar. But then other countries’ colonies exported even more sugar, and the slaves became difficult to manage.

They introduced coffee and cocoa crops, and abolished slavery in 1876, but while the workers were paid they were still kept against their will in terrible working conditions, so it didn’t change much.

In 1953 the Portuguese landowners turned violent against the Creoles in the Batepá massacre. São Tomé and Príncipe achieved independence on 12 July 1975. In 1991 they had free democratic elections. They had one military coup for a week in July 2003 but otherwise have remained one of Africa’s most stable and democratic countries.

Pancha Ganapati

Pancha Ganapati is a 5-day festival in honour of Ganesh (21st: family build and decorate shrine with Ganesh dressed in golden yellow, then work on family relationships; 22nd Ganesh dressed in royal blue and Hindus repair their relationships with neighbours and friends; 23rd, ruby red, for colleagues and customers; 24th emerald green, the family shares their artistic talents with each other; 25th family reflect on the love and harmony created thanks to Ganesh. Gifts put on the shrine every day til now are opened.)

Yalda: (Iran, 2016) an evening of staying in with family to avoid evil. The next day is joyous.

 

21st September

1937 The Hobbit published

1866 HG Wells born – try a War of the Worlds graphic novel or The Time Machine.

1874 Gustav Holst born – so listen to the Planets Suite.

Armenian Independence (from USSR, 1991)

Humans have lived in Armenia since at least 4,000 B.C. – archaeologists have found the world’s oldest leather shoe, skirt and wine-making kit there. Its capital Yeravan is the world’s oldest capital city, established in 782 B.C.

The people were Zoroastrians (Persian/Aryan) at first; then Byzantine Christians in 301 A.D.

After 636 A.D. Armenia became its own principality in the Arabic Empire, but in 1045 was taken back by the Byzantine Empire. During the 1230s the Mongols invaded.

From the early 16th century Armenia was fought over by the Turkish Ottoman and the Iranian Safavid Empires. When Christian Armenians tried to push for more rights under Ottoman rule in 1894-6, the emperor Hamid massacred about 300,00 of them.

In WWI the Ottomans and the Iranians worried the Armenians would take Russia’s side, so just tried to kill them all off. The Armenian Genocide saw many able-bodied men massacred; army conscripts were forced to do hard labour, and woman and children were sent on death marches to the Syrian desert.

[to be continued…]

Belize Independence Day (1981 from UK)

3,000 years ago the Mayan culture began here, and flourished until 900 A.D.

Spanish explorers arrived in the 16th century, and declared it a Spanish colony, but they didn’t actually settle it because it didn’t have any gold and the Mayans put up a pretty good defence.

In the 17th and 18th centuries British and Scottish Baymen (pirates) settled there and set up a port and used West African slaves to chop logwood. Spain granted the British settlement rights in return for their not being pirates and attacking Spanish ships any more.

On 10th September 1798, the Battle of St George’s Caye, between the Baymen and the Spanish, settled the matter and Spain gave up Belize entirely. Then Britain was officially in charge, and we tried to abolish the slave labour, but the Baymen ignored us.

In 1862 it became a British Crown Colony under rule from Jamaica, and named British Honduras.

The 1930s Great Depression plus a devastating hurricane Britain did nothing about really annoyed the people here. They fought with the Allies in WWII, but afterwards Britain devalued the Honduras Dollar, damaging the economy and leading Belize to demand independence.

They got independence in 1964 and was renamed Belize in 1973. Guatemala is pretty certain it owns Belize.

Belize is the birthplace of chewing gum and punta music. It’s home to the jaguar (with the world’s only jaguar reserve), howler monkeys and the third largest barrier reef in the world.

Malta Independence Day (from UK, 1964) – see 13th December