9th January

Philip Astley created the first circus in 1768 London – so we made our own circus!

We set up a tent and Baby tried snake charming (the snake being my arm in a green legging)

… riding a lion (I was the lion);

… one of her toys dared to put its head in a lion’s mouth;

…. we tried juggling and doing a clown act with an invisible car;

… we tried balancing toy elephants on a ball

… and gymnastics (Baby swinging from my hands).

For dinner we had hotdogs and toffee apple muffins.


Connecticut founded (1788): famous for Yale, ESPN, Gilmore Girls, election cake.

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.


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)

9th October

Hangul Day (S. Korea celebrates invention of its alphabet, 1446) – find your name in Korean here.

Leif Erikson Day (Viking bringing first Europeans to America in the 10th century) – resources here, and the rune alphabet here.

Takayama Autumn Festival – more info here.

World Post Day (after Swiss Universal Postal Union founded, 1874)

Uganda Independence Day:

Learn Swahili!

Up until around 300 B.C., Ugandans were hunter-gatherers. Then the great lakes were ruled by the Empire of Kitara, or the Chwezi Empire, until the Luo and Ateker peoples of the Nile valley invaded.

From the 1830s Arab traders arrived, followed by British explorers, and from 1888 it was part of the British East India Company.

The Brits imported Indian workers to build the Ugandan railway. In 1900-20, two-thirds of Ugandans by the lakes died of a sleeping sickness.

From 1962 Uganda was independent from the UK and became part of the Commonwealth.

After that, as with nearly all post-colonial countries, democracy soon turned to violent dictatorship. The first voted-in government had a prime minister, Milton Obote, and a president  who was also king, Edward Muteesa II; four years later the prime minister booted out the king-president, changed the constitution, declared Uganda a republic and abolished the traditional kingdoms.

Idi Amin

In ’71 Obote was deposed, and a violent dictator Idi Amin killed 300,000 Ugandans and extradited all the Indians, ruining the country’s economy.

Eight years later Ugandan exiles joined with Tanzania, invaded and reinstated Obote. He was again deposed and replaced by Tito Okello in 1985, who six months later was deposed in a ‘bush war’ led by the current president Yoweri Musoveni.

If you’re a child, female or gay in Uganda, it’s pretty bad times. Children can be kidnapped to serve in Kony’s army, or work in dangerous factory conditions, and parliament is pushing for homosexuals to receive the death penalty. Because women are expected to do all the housework, looking after the young, ill and old, and also have to bring in an income, they work 15-hour days compared to the men’s 8-hour days.

Despite fertile lands, lots of mineral resources and untapped cruel oil reserves, Uganda owes $2 billion in foreign debts. Through open discussion, Uganda managed to reduce HIV cases from 30% in the 1980s to 6.4% in the 2000s.  In 2003 George Bush started financially supported ‘abstinence-only’ campaigns against HIV, and cases doubled. Nice one, Bush.

Make a handprint elephant.


Chung Yeung Festival (2016 Hong Kong: 9th day of 9th lunar month; ancestor-worship in cemeteries; they also hike to the highest points for good luck and eat ko cakes)


9th July

1877 inaugural Wimbledon championships – so play tennis


Argentina Independence Day:

Argentina comes from the Latin ‘argentum’, silver, as Europeans thought there were mountains of silver to be found.

Before the Europeans arrived Argentinians were a mix of hunter-gatherers and farmers who made pottery.

Amerigo Vespucci arrived in 1502. The Spanish Empire made it part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, then in 1776 it became the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata (Silver River), with Buenos Aires as its capital.

The 1810 May Revolution replaced the Viceroy with a Junta, a government made of local people. During the revolution some parts of the Viceroyalty broke away and became independent states: Uruguay, upper Peru and Paraguay.

There was then a civil war between the Centralists, who wanted Buenos Aires to rule a united land, and the Federalists who wanted little independent states.

From 1861 everything was settled, and Argentina welcomed in a huge wave of European immigrants that made it the seventh wealthiest country in the world.

In 1930 the democratically elected president was shoved out of the way by José Félix Uriburu’s military coup.

Argentina stayed neutral in WWI and nearly all of WWII, jumping in a month before the end at America’s insistence.

The minister of welfare, Juan Domingo Perón, became president in 1946 and introduced Peronism, where important services were nationalised, he reached 100% employment, improved wages and working conditions and repaid all external debt. Wow.

But then the economy started to suffer from over-expenditure and in 1955 Argentina’s own navy bombed the Plaza de Mayo, injuring 800 people and killing 364, in the first step of a military revolution called the Revolucion Libertadora.

Perón had to go into exile. The revolution leaders banned Peronism, but at the next elections a Peronist successor was elected, Arturo Frondizi, and he reversed everything; there was another military coup, Peronism was banned again; then Arturo Illia was elected and he tried to legalise Peronism, then there was another military coup, and so on and so on.

This last coup was led by Juan Carlos Onganía, who banned all political parties and unions (always a good start), but in 1973 the elections were back, and so was Peronism…. and so was Perón.

Tension was now so high that when he returned from exile, snipers fired on the welcoming crowd to kill the left-wing supporters, injuring 365.

Perón was elected president, and expelled the Montoneros from the party, which were a left-wing guerrilla fighter group.

Perón died the next year and his wife took his place, secretly ordering police and the military to destroy the left-wing radicals. Then she was ousted by the Proceso, which again banned all political parties and unions and made anyone associated with left-wing politics disappear.

Then Leopoldo Galtieri became head of state and decided to invade the Falklands. Bad idea. The UK defeated them in two months. Argentina then brought back democracy (huzza) and veered between neoliberalism and Peronism some more, ad infinitum.

Activities: Dance the tango. The official national sport is pato. Make locro (stew).

Other events today:

  • Australia Constitution Day (see 26 January)
  • Palau Constitution Day – see 1st October
  • South Sudan Independence Day – see 1st January
  • Nunavut (Canadian natives) Day