24th June

St John’s Day: Tends to get mixed up with Midsummer in terms of activities (a handy way of getting the priests on side of the pagan folklore… why are you making your cattle walk through a fire? – For good lu- I mean, to celebrate St…. John?). It’s mainly: washing your face in the morning dew, gathering St John’s herb and making big bonfires. Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia (where witches are abroad and ferns, rowan birch and oak are brought in to decorate the house), Alacant in Spain and Quebec take this holiday pretty seriously.

Inti Raymi – Peruvian winter solstice and New Year festival, previously banned by Spanish conquerors.

1717 first Masonic Lodge opened in UK (so invent a secret handshake)

1846 Adolphe Sax patents the saxophone

Bannockburn Day (after Scotland’s Battle of Bannockburn 1314 for independence from England)

Also today:

  • Day of the Caboclo (a native Brazilian people)
  • Battle of Carabobo: Winning this battle allowed Venezuela to gain independence from Spain. Venezuela has the highest waterfall in the world. See 5th July for more ideas.

7th May

1824 Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony premiers

1833 Johannes Brahms born – so listen to his lullaby


1840 Tchaikovsky born – here’s his greatest hits.

So have a music day! Dance, make instruments, play along, get paints out and make big art inspired by the music…

Russia/Bulgaria Radio Day (celebrates Popov, inventor of first radio receiver)

El Salvador Soldier’s Day

2nd April


1805 Hans Christian Andersen born – so read ‘The Little Mermaid‘, ‘The Ugly Duckling‘ or ‘The Snow Queen‘.

1800 Beethoven’s First Symphony premiers in Vienna

Easter Monday (2018): traditionally a day for rolling Easter eggs in races, or also sprinkling people with holy water blessed yesterday at church. In Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic this has devolved into Wet Monday, where boys wake up girls by throwing a bucket of water over them and hitting them on the legs with sticks.



19th March

1895 the Lumiere brothers record first footage on the cinematograph – so make a home movie.

1962 Bob Dylan’s first album released

Minna Canth’s Birthday (Finland celebrates female social activist and writer born 1844)

St Joseph’s Day, and Father’s Day in many Catholic countries

14th March

Pi Day (3.14) – try these ideas at Scholastic.

White Day (Japan and Korea: girls gave boys chocolates on Valentine’s Day, now the boys give the girls a present back. On Valentine’s Day some women give out Giri choco, or ‘obligation chocolates’, to male coworkers without signifying romantic interest; those men still have to get a present to give back. In China it is the opposite, and now the boys’ turn to receive a gift.)

1885 Gilbert & Sullivan’s Mikado premiers, so listen to the songs or play Mikado the game:


1804 Johann Strauss I born, so listen to the Radetzky March


Other events today to inspire your play:

  • Nanakshahi New Year (Sikhism)
  • Albania Summer Day – see 11th January
  • Liberia Decoration Day – see 26th July
  • St Vincent National Hero’s Day
  • Andorra Constitution Day – see 8th September
  • Estonia Mother Tongue Day – see 23rd June
  • Canberra Day (Australia, 2016) – see 26th January

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.

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)

Plough Sunday (2018) – the beginning of the agricultural year: the first Sunday after Epiphany. Decorated ploughs are brought to church to be blessed, and prayers are said to bless the land. Farming starts properly tomorrow on Plough Monday.