27th April

1749 Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks first performed

1810 Beethoven composes Fuer Elise

2005 the first Airbus flies

1791 Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse code, born

Sierra Leone Independence Day (from UK in 1961):

Despite being a tiny country full of diamonds, gold, titanium and bauxite, and despite having the third largest natural harbour in the world at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay, 70% of its people live in poverty. Its name means ‘Lioness Mountains’.

From 1495 it was a slave-trading post for many countries; from 1787 escaped African-American slaves began to set up colonies there, becoming Freetown, the country’s capital.

I’m not sure exactly how it became British; it seems like we just casually took over, but after 1961 democracy lasted about 6 years, then they had all kinds of military coups and then a civil war. The UN tried to get involved, and 500 were taken hostage. So the British came in and sorted everyone out, and apparently now Tony Blair is quite popular over there for helping.

King’s Day (Netherlands and colonies) – everyone wears orange and celebrates the King’s birthday – so maybe dress up as kings and queens and have an orange feast!

Other events that might inspire your play:

  • S. Africa Freedom Day (celebrates the first elections in 1994 when black people could vote)
  • Togo Independence Day (from France in 1960 – see 13 Jan)
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27th September

1825 Stockton-Darlington Railway opens – here’s some train activities:

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http://play-trains.com/top-train-activities-for-kids-2013/

and here’s snacks and party games!

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http://b-inspiredmama.com/thomas-train-crafts-party/#_a5y_p=2459173

1998 Google ‘born’

 

Also today:

  • End of the War of Independence (Mexico) – see 16th September
  • French Community Holiday (Belgium) – see 1st July

27th July

1054 Siward, Earl of Northumbria, defeats Macbeth, king of Scotland – older kids might enjoy the BBC’s animated tales or Oddsocks. Actually there’s no ‘ might’ for the latter – kids aged 8+ (and adults) WILL LOVE THEM.

1940 ‘A Wild Hare’, Bugs Bunny debut

1870 Hillaire Belloc born – try this book, it’s lovely (and disturbing)

Finland’s National Sleepy Head Day, when the last person to wake up is woken with water, perhaps even being thrown into a lake.

North Korea Victory Day (over South Korea, 1953)

José Celso Barbosa’s Birthday: (Puerto Rico celebrates founder of their Republican party.)

Columbus found Puerto Rico in 1493, when it was inhabited by the native Taino. From the 16th century Spanish came to colonise the island and used the Taino for forced labour.

When they killed them off with smallpox, etc., they had to import African slaves to work for them. Spain tried to keep the islanders on side by allowing them to vote in Spanish elections, but the slaves kept revolting and the people wanted independence.

To try and dilute this, Spain offered free land to any Europeans wanting to settle on the island.

Around 1890 the US started to think about building a navy, and the Panama Canal, and tried to buy Puerto Rico and Cuba from Spain. Spain said no, but in 1898 America helped Cuba in their revolution, and Spain and America went to war (imagine that happening now).

This resulted in America taking Puerto Rico. The US offered Puerto Ricans American citizenship, but the Puerto Ricans thought this was just so the US could conscript them into WWI.

It is now a Commonwealth of the US, and no one’s really sure what that means. Ricky Martin is Puerto Rican.

27th February

Dominican Republic Independence Day

In about 650 A.D. Tainos came from South America to the Dominican Republic. Then Caribs drove the Tainos to the north-east Carribean in the 15th century.

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In 1492 Christopher Colombus arrived, bringing the Spanish, smallpox and measles, and generally conquering by disease. His brother Bartholomew built the city of Santo Domingo, Western Europe’s first settlement in the New World.

The Spanish used the island for plantations and to launch other conquests around the Americas. By the 18th century the population had risen from a few thousand to 40,000 white landowners, 25,000 black freedmen, and 60,000 slaves.

French buccaneers arrived and took the western side. France eventually owned the whole island, but the west bit, then named Saint-Domingue, revolted against France and became independent Haiti.

In 1805 Haitians invaded Santo Domingo. In 1808 Napoleon invaded Spain, and Santo Domingo’s Spanish settlers revolted against French rule. Britain helped, and that part of the island was returned to Spain.

They later declared themselves independent as Spanish Haiti, and wanted to be part of Gran Colombia, but Haitians invaded and took over.

The Haitians, led by Jean-Pierre Boyer abolished slavery and nationalised a lot of property owned by settlers, the Spanish Crown and the Church. Boyer drafted all young men into the army, collapsing the university system, and taxed everyone heavily.

In 1838 Jean Pablo Duarte led the fight for independence with a secret society called La Trinitaria, comprising him, Matías Ramón Mella and Francisco del Rosario Sánchez.

On 27th February 1844 they declared themselves independent from Haiti (who of course carried on invading, but still…), backed by Pedro Santana, a cattle rancher who became general of their army.

Santana, and a wealthy official named Buenaventura Báez, both decided they were now in charge. Santana wanted to reunite Santo Domingo with Spain, Báez with America.

Santana succeeded, leading to the War of Restoration in 1863, this time helped by Haiti who didn’t want to live next door to a colonial power again. Spain gave up in 1865.

In 1916 America thought the Dominican Republic were doing a terrible job by themselves and invaded. They controlled the republic until 1922, building roads but not really gaining popularity.

The republic then had a dictator, Trujillo, who did a lot of good like improve healthcare and housing, education, etc., but was also a bit murdery as dictators often are. He ordered El Corte, the murder of any Haitians living on the Dominican border (we won’t mention that he was a quarter Haitian himself).

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On 25 November 1960 Trujillo murdered 3 Mirabel sisters for opposing his regime. He also tried to assassinate the Venezuelan president, and in 1961 was assassinated himself.

Worried that another Communist Cuba might be created, America invaded to supervise elections. In 1960 Joaquin Balaguer became president and was quite oppressive, killing 11,000 people, but at least he wasn’t Communist, eh? Besides, they liked him and he was President on and off until 1996. Since then they’ve started to get the hang of things, and their economy and democracy seem to work.

The national dance is Merengue; the national music is Bachata; baseball is their favourite sport, while tourists love their year-round golf courses.