29th January

1835 Susan Coolidge born, author of What Katy Did

1861 Kansas becomes a state – watch Wizard of Oz

1886 Karl Benz patents the first petrol-powered car

1936 the Baseball Hall of Fame opens –  so play baseball

1963 the Football Hall of Fame opens – play American football

Gibraltar Constitution Day – see 10th September.

Victoria Cross instituted 1856 – talk about bravery.


26th January

Australia Day

Australia comes from the Latin australis, ‘southern’.

The first humans arrived here 48,000 years ago; when the Dutch came over in the 17th century (and called it New Holland), the natives were hunter-gatherer aborigines who believed in Dreamtime, when totemic spirits created the land.

James Cook claimed New South Wales for Britain in 1770. After losing our American colonies, the ‘First Fleet’ arrived to create a penal colony. Britain sent prisoners there until 1848.

The government took aboriginal children away from their parents to protect them from… um, their own culture, leading to the Stolen Generations. It was not until 1992 that aborigines were recognised as actually having any right to the land.

From the 1850s there was a gold rush.

Australia fought with Britain in WWI and WWII, but during this last Britain lost the fight against Japan and so Australia found a new ally in America.

They are not governed by Britain but in 1999 voted to keep our Queen.

This day is the anniversary of the first British settlement in 1788.

Learn about the Great Barrier Reef…


marsupials like koalas, kangaroos and wombats, monotremes like the platypus and echidna, as well as emus and kookaburras. Learn the kookaburra song! Have a letter ‘k’ day with koalas, kangaroos and kookaburras. Tell Dreamtime stories or try some Aboriginal rock art.

Here are some more activities:

Here are some Australian songsAustralian bird signs, a COOKIE map of Australia (you could also do this with playdough), make ANZAC biscuits, Lamingtons, even a digeridoo!….And here’s 10 more great Aussie activities.

Other events that might inspire your play:

India Republic Day (independent from Britain 1950) – see 15th August

Bikaner Camel Festival

Uganda Liberation Day – see 9th October

Duarte’s Birthday (Dominican Republic) – see 27th February

Michigan (founded 1837): That song. Henry Ford’s car factory. Detroit. 8 Mile Road and Eminem.

25th January

1759 Robert Burns born/Burns Night – you’ll need haggis,

neeps and tatties, with cranachan for desert. You could also make a paper tartan kilt for a teddy:

and listen to bagpipe music.

2004 Opportunity rover lands on Mars – so learn about Mars.



Dydd Santes Dwynwen (Welsh Valentine’s Day) – more info here. Make a Welsh love spoon!

Other events which may inspire your play:

  • GF Croes’ Day (led Aruba to independence from Netherlands) – see 18th March
  • Strauss’s opera Elektra premiers 1909
  • First Winter Olympics (in the French alps) 1929
  • 1947 the cathode ray tube television patented – so make a tv show
  • Tatiana Day/Russian Students Day

7th January

Orthodox Christmas (the churches of Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Serbia, Montenegro, the Republic of Macedonia, and the Republic of Moldova still follow the Julian calendar, for some reason)

Cambodia Victory Day – see 9th November

Gallileo discovers Jupiter’s Gallilean moons (1610)

The first transatlantic telephone service from New York to London is established in 1927 – make a telephone.

Nanakusa-no-seku (a festival in which Japanese put their Christmas decorations away and eat 7-herb porridge for good luck – in the UK you could use sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme, winter savory and bay to make a bouquet garni)

Tricolore Day (Italy – so eat a margarita pizza or have mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil salad)

4th January

1903 Thomas Eddison electrocutes Topsy the elephant – not many people know Eddison did this, to show everyone that his rival Tesla’s AC current was more dangerous than his (it’s not). Learn about AC/DC and electric currents; I’d recommend getting a kids’ book out the library or trying this game.

Spirit Rover

2004 Spirit rover lands on Mars

Grimm tales

1785 Jacob Grimm born – so read some fairy tales

1809 Louis Braille born – so write your name in Braille.

Burma Independence Day (from UK, 1948)

Burma (officially called Myanmar) has been inhabited by humans for 400,000 years. In the 2nd century B.C. Tibeto-Burman Pyu people made cities and traded with India, which introduced Buddhism.

In the 1060s Burma became the Pagan Empire (named after the settlement at Bagan), building tens of thousands of Buddhist temples. Mogol invasions toppled it in 1287.

After that Burma was made up of Ava, Hanthawaddy and Shan states and the Kingdom of Mrauk U.

In the mid-16th century, a state of Ava, Taungoo, took over the whole of Burma as well as north-east India, a bit of China, Siam and Lan Xang and was the largest empire in south-east Asian history, but it collapsed by 1599.

Eventually Burma was reunited under the Kongbaung dynasty, but they did have to fight off Portugal, Siam, France and Britain. China also kept invading and eventually Britain, after three Anglo-Burmese Wars in the 19th century, took the whole thing. We brought English settlers and Indian workers, and absolutely no respect for Burmese culture, not even taking our muddy boots off to enter the sacred pagodas.

In WWII Burma was devastated. Japan invaded and the Brits and Americans followed to boot them out. The Burmese fought on both sides.

In 1948 Burma became independent from Britain, but not part of the Commonwealth.

In 1962 a military coup d’etat set Burma on the path to Soviet-style Communism, and it became one of the world’s most impoverished countries. This led to the 8888 (8 August 1988) Uprising, which saw thousands of protestors killed, martial law put in place and Burma was renamed the Union of Myanmar.

In 1990 Burma finally had free elections, the first for 30 years. But the military government wasn’t re-elected, as they’d clearly expected, and they said “Oh well, never mind”, ignored the votes and stayed in power until 2011. In 2007 a Saffron Revolution was led by Buddhist monks, and as the government tried to kill them a lot of the world stopped trading with Burma.

In 2008 a cyclone left 200,000 people dead or missing and 1 million homeless. American planes carrying aid weren’t allowed in in case they were spies.

Burma exports a lot of jewels…but most of the west can’t buy them because the miners’ working conditions are so awful.

Utah founded (1896) by Mormons

18th December

Christmas Jumper Day (2015, Save the Children UK)

1892 the Nutcracker premiers

1793 HMS Lutine sinks full of gold

1912 Piltdown Man announced

Niger Republic Day

Qatar National Day

UN Arabic Language Day;

New Jersey founded 1787: had the world’s first organised baseball game, drive-in movie, the first movie (by Edison), submarine, condensed soup, robots to replace workers, salt taffee, the first town to be lighted by electricity.

15th November

Palestine Independence Day (1988)

Palestine’s ancient history was influenced by the surrounding civilisations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Minoan Crete and Syria. It became part of Egypt’s New Kingdom in 1550-1400 B.C., then it broke away and Israel emerged from it, later splitting into North Israel and South Judah.

It became a part of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in around 740 B.C., which shortly became the Neo-Babylonian Empire. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed Jerusalem and took Judaen leaders away. When the Achmaenid Empire took over, the Judaen exiles were allowed to return to Judea. The Biblical story of this, ‘Return to Zion’, caused issues later as we shall see.

In the 330s B.C. Alexander the Great took over, then the Seleucid Empire, then the Jews took over and it became known as Iudaea. Then the Romans took over, and Jesus was crucified here in about 30 A.D. The emperor Hadrian joined Iudaea with Galilee to form Syria-Palaestina, and when Constantine became Christian his mum came here to build churches and make it a centre of Christianity.

Church of the Nativity, left.

Palestine was conquered by the Islamic Empire in 634 A.D. The Dome of the Rock was built in Jerusalem in 691, the world’s first great piece of Islamic architecture.

After that it was basically just fought over by everyone: Egyptians, Fatimids (a Shia Islamic empire), the Crusaders (defeated by Saladin), Mongols, and Ottomans. In 1832, Egyptian Khedive Muhammed Ali invaded,  but Britain came in in 1840 and made them give it back to the Ottomans. Then we did the Balfour Declaration, in which British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour said he supported Jews finding a home in Palestine, so long as it didn’t affect the religious or civil rights of the non-Jewish people living there already or of Jews still living in other countries.

In 1915 Britain invaded Palestine to wrest it from the Ottomans. We formally took the region in 1922; the non-Jewish population weren’t happy.

After WWII, Britain gave up the region, and the UN divided it into an Arab state, a Jewish state and a special regime for Jerusalem. The Jewish leaders agreed but the Arabs revolted and started a civil war. In 1948 the State of Israel was declared….but not its borders. Jordan, Egypt and Israel began to fight over these borders; 700,000 Palestinians fled and were unable to return as Israel wouldn’t let them back in.

In 1988 the Palestinian Liberation Organisation declared the State of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital (Israel, of course, also claims Jerusalem as its capital). 100 countries recognise it, but not Israel.

In 2000 Israel began building a security barrier along the West Bank to protect it from Palestinian suicide bombers. This is basically building a non-negotiated border. In 2004 Israel withdrew from the Gaza strip.

Learn about jinns or the stories of Juha

German Community Holiday (Belgium)

King’s Feast (Belgium)

Winter Lent (Eastern Orthodox)

Shichigosan: (Means seven-five-three) Japanese people give children aged seven, five and three these cute packs with a red-and-white candy which represents the gift of longevity. The packaging traditionally shows a crane and a turtle. There’s an activity sheet here.

Brazil Republic Day: – see 22nd April

We played football and watched a bit of the famous Rio de Janeiro Carnival, then we cut out paper ‘feathers’ from a magazine and stuck them on a cut-out magazine model so she looked like she was in the parade. You could make a virgin caipirinha or beijinhos or brigadeiros.