11th February

Venice Carnival starts, 2017, so make a Carnival mask:



1942 Glen Miller’s ‘Chatanooga Choo-Choo’ first to receive a gold record for selling more than a million copies

US Inventor’s Day

Japan National Foundation Day:

Japanese call Japan Nippon, which means ‘sun-origin’ so it’s also called Land of the Rising Sun.


Japan is actually made up of 6,852 islands!

First evidence of humans was 30,000 years ago. Buddhism came over in the 3rd century.

From about 1200 A.D. a ruling warrior class of samurais emerged, called shoguns. Everyone was very fighty, and there was a century of civil wars called the Sengoku period.

In the 16th century the Portuguese reached Japan for the first time. From 1590 Japan was united into one nation.

From 1603 codes of conduct were issued for the samurai classes to try and stop them from doing things like killing someone just for an insult, as they had been doing until now.

From 1639 Japan isolated itself from the rest of the world to try and stay united. This is called the Edo period.

In 1854 the American Navy arrived and made the Emperor agree to trade with them. The Japanese people were cross about this, and it led to the Boshin War, with the shogun resigning and Japan was then ruled by the Emperor Meiji.

Japan became an industrialised world-power and kept invading nearby countries to expand its power. The Emperor Taisho was a bit elderly so they introduced a democracy so that parliament could rule.

In WWI Japan was one of the Allies, but when it invaded Manchuria we all thought that was a bit much, so Japan left the League of Nations and by WWII Japan had flipped and was on the Nazis’ side. They agreed not to fight with Russia, but they invaded China a lot, with the Nanking massacre a particular low point.

They invaded French Indochina to stop France from supplying arms to China, so America stopped sending oil to Japan, so Japan bombed Pearl Harbour and brought the US into WWII.

Russia gave up its treaty not to fight Japan and took Manchuria; meanwhile, America dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered.

The Allies put all the Japanese colonists back in Japan and prosecuted war criminals. Since then Japan has gone all liberal and democratic, and even has a bit in its constitution where it renounced the right to declare war. Imagine if everyone did that.

In 2011 the biggest recorded earthquake in Japan, triggering a tsunami which partly destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Make an origami kimono or an origami crane.

Have a go at sumo wrestling, jujitsu, judo or karate.

Do karaoke!

Here is a list of Japanese games.

Make real sushi or playdough sushi.

10th February

Feast of St Paul’s Shipwreck. Malta has the most holidays in Europe. This one celebrates St Paul’s shipwreck (did you guess that already?) on Malta in 50 A.D. – so play Shipwreck.

Fenkil Day (Eritrea commemorates Battle of Fenkil, a victory in its quest for independence) – see 24th May

8th February


1950 the Staasi was established in East Germany –so play spy games


1960 the Hollywood Walk of Fame has its first six stars added – the above website has loads of ideas for Hollywood movie themed play.


1828 Jules Verne born


Prešeren Day (Slovenia):

The world’s oldest musical instrument was discovered in Slovenia – the Divje Babe flute. Make a flute! – as well as the world’s oldest wooden wheel, preserved in marshes.

The ancient Romans came in and decided Slovenia was part of Italy; later Huns and Germans invaded too. When the last Germanic tribe, the Lombards, moved out, Slavic tribes moved in.

Under King Samo they fought against the horse-riding Avars, and when Samo’s kingdom fell apart the Slavs founded the duchy of Carantania.

Bavarian missionaries came over and together the Bavarians and Slavs became part of the Carolingian Empire, named after Charlemagne/Charles the Great, which was the name for the Frankish Empire which itself was the name for the western half of the Roman Empire, the ‘Holy’ Roman Empire, after it fell. Confusing, right?

A Magyar, or Hungarian, invasion separated the western Slavs from the Slovenes in Carantania.

The Germanic king Otto defeated the Magyars and then Italy to become the new head of the Holy Roman Empire, and Carantania became Carinthia. It was separated from Bavaria and shrank to its present size.

It was owned by the Habsburgs and the counts of Celje/Cilli, but Turks kept raiding and the peasants tried to revolt several times because life was so hard. Between 1880 and 1910 about 1 in 6 Slavs emigrated.

In WWI many Slovenes were conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army, and many died either fighting or in Italian prisoner-of-war camps.

After WWI the Slovenes banded with the Croats and Serbs as the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell, and became Yugoslavia, in which Slovenia was the most industralised and productive.

In 1920 the southern Slovene-speaking Carinthia became part of Austria, and Italy was given other parts of Slovenia in exchange for joining the UK during WWI (I doubt the UK had the right to hand Slovenia over, but there it is). Slovenes in Italy had their language and culture violently oppressed.

In WWII Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis Powers (Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan). One general, Pietro Badoglio, was a particularly huge war criminal who used poison gases on Red Cross hospitals, etc., but only Greece, Yugoslavia and Ethiopia wanted him extradited as America and the UK saw him as an anti-Communist ally in Italy, so he was never extradited.


Yugoslavia and Slovenia became socialist states after WWII under leader Josef Tito, but because Slovenia again was the most productive, it felt like it was carrying the rest of the state and so requested independence.

Yugoslavia, under Slobodam Milosevic, tried to fight them for 10 days but in 1991 Slovenia became an independent, democratic nation. It joined the EU in 2004.

It has the most forests in Europe, including the remains of some primeval ones, because they are so valued that they keep logging to a minimum, and despite its small size contains 1% of the world’s organisms.

This day celebrates Slovenian culture. Try making a Prekmurska gibanica.

6th February

Waitangi Day: commemorates the signing of the Waitangi treaty which gave the Maori people the right to be treated as British citizens with rights to their own land (I don’t think this actually happened), so try a haka dance, learn about the (extinct) moa …

Sports include ki-o-rahi and tapawai.

Sami National Day:

Sami, sometimes known as Laplanders, are the northernmost indigenous people in Europe, living in Sapmi, an area through Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia, for at lease 5,000 years. Sea Sami live off fish and Mountain Sami live off reindeer.

Nomads following their herds, they had to pay tax in Sweden, Norway and Finland as the reindeer passed through; and at one point, Sweden captured them to work in a slave mine.

Since then, because they are dependent on land owned by the governments of several other countries, they have been excluded from the fishing quotas, Russia dumped radioactive waste in their fishing waters, Chernobyl wiped out the lichen the reindeer need in the winter, they lost their winter grazing land in Sweden to the world’s largest onshore wind farm, and of course everyone wants to mine their lands.

Although they are recognised as a protected indigenous people, this has all been mainly without compensation.

Their handicraft is called duodji: their national singing is called joik; the national anthem is ‘Sámi soga lávlla’.

Massachusetts founded (1788): British Puritans landed here in the Plymouth Colony. The Boston Tea Party was when colonists threw tea out of boats rather than pay tax to the Brits for importing it. Their first-response militia, the Minutemen, were among the first to fight in the Revolution. Cape Cod. Boston cream pie.

1819 Singapore founded

Temasek (meaning ‘Sea Town), founded in the 2nd century, was the earliest known settlement in Singapore. In the 13th century the Kingdom of Singapura was founded on the island but was destroyed by the Indonesian Majahapit Empire in the 13th century. In 1613 Polish raiders burnt down the remaining settlement.

In 1819 the British East India Company signed a treaty with Johor (in Malaysia) to develop Singapore into a trading post. The population went from 1,000 people to 80,000, mostly Chinese labourers to work on the rubber plantations.

In WWII Britain surrendered Singapore to the Japanese. Winston  Churchill called it the ‘worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history’. The Japanese massacred thousands of Chinese people. The Allies bombed Singapore a lot, you know, to help. When Japan surrendered Britain took it back.

In 1969 Singapore was granted independence. The first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, helped to make Singapore the Garden City it is today.