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…

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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.

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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.

18th December

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.

2nd November

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead): I love these Day of the Dead cookies.

1898 cheerleading first performed at Uni of Minnesota football game

1936 BBC launched

1982 Ch4 launched

North/South Dakota Statehood Day: North Dakota has shale fields, while South Dakota is famous for the Wounded Knee Massacre (named after Wounded Knee Creek rather than any actual wounded knees) of the Sioux Native Americans…and weird-sounding places like the Badlands. The Native American Crazy Horse is being turned very slowly into the world’s biggest monument.

All Souls Day

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.