22nd June

Anti-Fascist Resistance Day: Celebrated in Croatia with barbeque and fireworks. Croatia was a German puppet state during WWII under a government called the Usta E. The resistance was headed by a Communist leader called Tito, who later appointed himself President for life. See 25th June for more ideas.

El Salvador Teachers Day: On this day, teachers are given awards recognising their services to education, big parties are held in their honour, and students send them love cards to show their appreciation.

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22nd January

22 Jan: Ukraine Reunion Day – as explained at Every Day’s a Holiday, this day celebrates the east and west parts of the Ukraine reuniting just after World War I. But let’s take it back to the beginning.

Ukraine, bordering the Black Sea, was populated by ancient Iranians (the Scythian gold found in burial mounds in Ukraine came from these),  Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Goths, Huns, Bulgars and Khazars. You name them, they came there.

Vikings, whom the Greeks named Varangians, came over and founded Kievan Rus, which straddled what is now Russia and a western bit of the Ukraine. Thanks to its great trading situation it became the most powerful state in Europe by the 11th century with Kiev the most important city.

Vladimir the Great turned the people from pagans to Orthodox Christians, but later rulers allowed Kievan Rus to disintegrate and in 1240 Mongols completely destroyed Kiev.

Vladimir the Great

Then Poland took it, then Lithuania, then Poland again (they kind of shared it). Cossacks moved in but while Poland expected them to fight on their side, Poland’s mistreatment of Ukrainian peasants and their lack of Orthodox Christianity meant the Cossacks turned to Russia (then called Muscovy) for help – and the east part of the Ukraine became part of Russia in 1654. Phew!

Naughty Tatars from the Crimean Khanate not only took up the best land along the coast but also kept raiding northwards and took a record 60,000 Ukrainians as slaves in 1688 (the Russian Empire finally squashed them 90 years later).

In 1657-86, Ukraine was fought over by Russia, Poland, Turks and Cossacks, who, like children fighting over a toy, completely broke it in the process. In the end Poland got the west bits and Russia got the east bits.

The Cossacks ruled a hetmanate in central Ukraine under Russia’s control, but kept siding against Russia whenever other invaders (Sweden and Poland … we were so fighty in those days, weren’t we?) attacked so Peter the Great got rid of them.

Poland was later divided into partitions and the bit of Ukraine that was Polish then became Austrian.

But people who were essentially Lithuanian or Polish still ruled swathes of the Ukraine; they introduced a western Unionate Church and were pretty mean to the peasants, so the Cossacks led another uprising which saw Ukrainians killing off an awful lot of Poles and Jews, with Unionate and Orthodox religious-types fighting each other too.

In 1783 Russia absorbed the Crimean Khanate. By this point Ukraine had fallen so far from its glory days of Kievan Rus that the Ukrainian language was banned and it was just a land of rural peasants.

Catherine the Great urged immigrants from Europe, especially Germany, to come in and take advantage of the farmland (and thin out the Turk population). The Ukrainians, in turn, moved out – to Siberia.

In WWI Ukrainians fought both for Russia and for the Austro-Hungarian empires, both of which collapsed thereafter. Then there was revolutions and civil wars and Ukraine split up into lots of little states.

Again, Poland came in and took the west bit, while the east states became part of the Soviet Union. By this point, again, Ukraine was pretty much devastated, but Communist Russia got it on side with health care, women’s rights, education, etc.

Of course, when Stalin came in he put a stop to all that nonsense, and even imposed a famine because the Ukrainian farmers couldn’t meet his quotas for produce. In the 1930s, 80% of Ukrainian writers, artists and intellectuals were killed in Stalin’s Great Terror for not fitting in with his idea of culture. But apart from that I’m sure he was a lovely bloke.

Most of WWII was fought on the Eastern Front around Russia and the Ukraine.

Germany invaded in 1941 and of course the Nazis were no better than Stalin. They kept the collectivised farming, killed off all the Jews they could find and tried to starve out the population so there’d be more room for Germans.

Poor Kiev was encircled in July 1941 and held out for three months before 600,000 of their troops were killed or taken for slave labour.

Post-WWII there was still famine and ruin to endure, and until his death in 1953 Stalin carried on deporting Ukrainians for whatever reasons he could think of.

Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor, invested in the Ukraine and it grew. However, tragedy struck again on 26 April 1986 when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded and 2.2 million Ukrainians were contaminated with radiation.

In 1990 Ukraine gained independence, a year before the Soviet Union dissolved. Why not make a chicken or bean kiev or a kiev cake; or make pysanky. Tchaikowsky came from the Ukraine so why not watch the Nutcracker?

22nd December

1808 Beethoven premiers his Fifth Symphony, Sixth Symphony, Fourth Piano Concerto and Choral Fantasy

National Mathematics Day – go to Bedtime Math!

Dongzhi Festival: the days are getting longer from this day and so more positive yang energy will come in. People eat tangyuan.

Ziemassvētki (ancient Latvia): Candles are lit for spirits and a fire is kept burning until the end, when its extinguishing ends the year’s unhappiness. A feast is served with bread, beans, peas, pork, and pig snout and feet, with a space at the table is reserved for ghosts, who arrive on a sleigh.

22nd October

1797 first recorded parachute jump (invented by André-Jacques Garnerin)

1811 Franz Liszt born – his top 4 most famous songs are Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, La Campanella, Liebestraume No. 3, and Un Sospiro.

Sun Festival Abu Simbel (Egypt)

World Energy Day – see it in pictures at Greenpeace.

22nd September

 

Autumnal Equinox: Day and night are the same length; first day of autumn.

1791 Michael Faraday born (electromagnetism)

Car Free Day (Europe, Canada)

Bulgarian Independence Day (from Ottoman Empire, 1908)

Prehistoric Bulgarians include the Stone-Age people who made the Kozarnika cave with its carved animal bones; and the Varnas, who left the Varna Necropolis, the world’s oldest treasure site.

The Thracians appeared in the Iron Age, later conquered by Alexander the Great and then the Romans. Under the Romans Bulgaria became Christian, even making the world’s oldest Germanic-language Bible, the Wulfila Bible, and setting up Europe’s oldest monastery, in the 4th century.

When the Roman Empire fell in the 5th century, it became part of the Byzantine Empire.

From the 6th century, South Slavs moved up and settled with the Thracians. In 680 the Bulgars, semi-nomadic Turkic tribes, drove out the Byzantine rulers and created the First Bulgarian Empire. It adopted the Cyrillic alphabet in the 9th century, when it was invented from the Glagolitic alphabet invented by Saints Cyril and Methodius. The Byzantine Empire reconquered Bulgaria in 1014.

In 1393 Bulgaria became part of the Ottoman Empire, who introduced Islam and made Christians second-class citizens.

In 1876 Ottomans killed 30,000 Bulgarians after they tried the Great Bulgarian Uprising; a year later Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire because of this, and nearly created the Second Bulgarian Empire, except England and France were scared of a Balkan power and said no.So they just made a smaller Bulgaria that actually left out a lot of Bulgarians. This really annoyed Bulgaria and they kept trying to take their old land by force, becoming known as the Balkan Prussia.

From 1912 Bulgaria was involved in two Balkan Conflicts and fighting alongside Austria-Germany in WWI. Obviously that was the losing side, and Bulgaria lost more of its land again.

In WWII they again fought on the side of the Germans, but refused to join in with the Holocaust. In 1944 Russia invaded, and Bulgaria became Communist and fought for the Allies. Afterwards, Georgi Dimitroc led a Stalinist state that executed thousands of dissidents. It had its first free elections in 1990. It became part of the EU in 2007.

Hobbit Day – watch the Lego video here.

Mali Independence Day (France, 1960)

Mali was first part of the Ghana Empire, then the Mali Empire, then the Songhai Empire, all three being major West Agrican empires that ruled Saharan trade in gold, salt and slaves. But then sea trade became more important and the empires fell.

By 1905 most of Mali was ruled by France as part of French Sudan. Mali and Senegal became the Mali Federation, which gained independence from France on 20 June 1960. Then Senegal separated from it on 22 September.

(to be continued…)