1st March

St David’s Day (Wales):

Make daffodils out of egg cartons:

daffodil lollipops:

daffodil candy cups:

daffodil windmills:

daffodil cupcakes:

Or try some St David’s Day Welsh food, like Glamorgan sausages:

and Welsh cakes:

Eat them up with Welsh love spoons:

A bit about Wales: it has been inhabited for at least 29,000 years. About 12,000 years ago, in the last Ice Age, when sea levels were lower, hunter-gatherers could just walk from Europe to the UK across Doggerland, a piece of land now under the North Sea. The last glacier in Wales melted away about 10,000 years ago, and the rising sea separated it from Ireland. 8,000 years ago Britain became an island.

Eventually the Stone Age people became Bronze Age people, and then Iron Age Celts. The Romans arrived in A.D. 48 and stayed for 300 years, extracting gold, copper and lead but not really ever being allowed to Romanise the people as they did in England.

In 383 A.D. a Roman general called Magnus Maximus left Britain with all of its troops and governors, planning to rule as Emperor from Gaul. As he left he bestowed ruling power on local authorities, and so he is seen as one of the Welsh founding fathers for appointing local people the power to rule Wales. I think….

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Romano-Britons formed little kingdoms which fought with each other to define their boundaries. In the 8th century King Offa built Offa’s Dyke which still roughly separates Wales from England.

In 853 the Vikings raided the island of Anglesey but the king of Gwynedd defeated them, allied with them and invaded the north of Wales with them.

In the 11th century Gruffydd ap Llewellyn became the only Welsh king ever to rule over the entire territory of Wales. Then William the Conqueror took England, and gave lords with their own ruling laws reign over the area near Wales – this was called the Welsh Marches.

Llewellyn Fawr became the first Prince of Wales following the Magna Carta in 1215, but in 1282 Edward I invaded and the Welsh princes ended with Llewellyn’s head being carried through London on a spear. Under Henry VIII Wales became part of the UK.

In the Industrial Revolution Wales became a centre for copper mining and iron smelting – Parys Mountain in Anglesey had the world’s biggest copper mine. Later slate quarrying and coal mining became successful. Just before the First World War, Wales was at its peak coal production, exporting millions of tons a year. In WWII 10% of all young male conscripts were sent into the coal mines – they became known as the Bevin Boys.

In 1925 the political party Plaid Cymru was formed, seeking independence from the UK. In 1955 Cardiff became Wales’ capital city. In 1965, despite 34 out of 35 Welsh MPs voting against it, a Welsh village was flooded to make a reservoir for Liverpool, because there were simply more English MPs who voted for it. In 1997 the Welsh National Assembly was set up to decide how Wales’s budget is run. Wales defines itself as a country, although Prince Charles’s title of Prince of Wales suggests it is really a principality.

Read Celtic myths or the Mabinogian; play rugby!

 

 

Martenitsa (Bulgaria): On 1 March, Bulgarians celebrate Baba Marta Day. Baba Marta is a mythical old woman whose moods affect the weather in March. They make martenitisi and give them away to friends and family.

They tie them round their wrists as a symbol of good fortune, health and prosperity. When they see a tree in blossom, or a stork or swallow, they remove the bracelet and put it on the tree or under a stone. The wearing of the bracelet is also supposed to be a wish for spring, to make winter pass more quickly.

Romanians celebrate Martisor in a similar way, with red and white or black and white bracelets that they wear for the first 12 days of the month to represent prosperity for the next 12 months. They often have little talismans tied onto them to represent what they want in the year ahead. They also make a Martisor tort.

 

1810 Frederick Chopin born – here’s a beginner’s guide.

 

National Pig Day (US): Make a piggy bank:

or learn about the Three Little Pigs:

 

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • Iceland’s Beer Day – see 17th June
  • Bosnia-Herz Independence Day – see 25th November
  • S. Korea 1 March Movement Day (celebrates resistance to Japanese occupation) – see 17th July.

25th November

Suriname Independence Day

Originally settled by indigenous people (?), in the 16th century British, French and Spanish explorers arrived.The Dutch and the English established plantation colonies there in the next century. They argued about who owned what, and eventually decided that the Dutch would keep Suriname, which they named Dutch Guiana, and the British would keep New Amsterdam, now more familiar as New York. I mean, we kiiiind of agreed, but we also invaded a couple of more times. Worth a shot.

The Dutch plantation owners relied on African slaves to grow coffee, sugar, cotton and cocoa. Some slaves escaped, and became the Maroons, fairly successful new tribes living in the rainforest. They kept coming back to raid the plantations, take away more slaves and kill plantation owners, until the Dutch agreed to give them their own legal land and sovereign status.

In 1863-73 the Netherlands abolished slavery and freed the slaves. Most slaves then left for the capital, Paramaribo, and were replaced by workers imported from the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and India. Chinese and Middle Eastern workers arrived in the 19th and 20th centuries. This makes Suriname, for all its small size, one of the most ethically diverse places in the world.

During WWII America occupied Suriname to protect its bauxite mines. In 1975 Suriname finally gained independence from the Netherlands. Nearly a third emigrated to the Netherlands, fearing that it would be worse off alone. And yes, there was fraud and military coups, including as one ‘telephone coup’ where the military leader rang up the government to dismiss them, racial tension, civil war between the Maroons and the army.

It is the smallest sovereign state in South America and the only one where a majority speak Dutch.

Famous places in Suriname include the nesting site of the giant leatherback turtle, who come to the Galibi Nature Reserve to lay their eggs; and a cathedral that’s one of the world’s largest wooden buildings.

Bosnia-Herz National Statehood Day:

First inhabited by Neolithic Illyrians, conquered by Rome in A.D. 9, by the Middle Ages this area was being fought over by Hungary and the Byzantine Empire.

In 1463 it fell to the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and a native Serbian Muslim population began to dominate.

By the late 17th century it was the front of the Empire and so kept being fought over.

From 1875 a peasant uprising in Herzogovina spread to involve many Balkan states and Great Powers until the Treaty of Berlin put it under Austro-Hungarian rule. This led to Gavrilo Princip assassinating Franz Ferdinand and sparking WWI.

Then it became part of Yugoslavia, invaded by the Nazis, and around 350,000 Serbs were killed in the Holocaust.

Josip Broz Tito led a communist resistance and was supported by Allies. When Soviet Russia fell, Yugoslavia broke up. Serbs wanted to stay with the Yugoslav federation; Bosniaks and Croats wanted independence. This led to the war 1992-5 that decimated Sarajevo and was termed a genocide: Serbs against mainly Bosnian Muslims.