9th June


1934 Donald Duck debuts

Other events today:

  • King Abdullah II’s anniversary of ascension to the throne (Jordan – see 25th May)
  • Aland Islands Autonomy Day (a Swedish-speaking set of islands in Finland)
  • La Rioja Day and Murcia Day (regions in Spain; the former famous for St Millan monasteries where the first Spanish words were ever written down; the latter for its Easter parades, and the tallest bell tower in Spain)

28th February

1820 John Tenniel born – so print and colour in some Alice in Wonderland pictures

1824 Blondin, tightrope walker, born – so try some balancing games:


Kalevala Day (for Finnish Culture: The Kalevala, a collection of epic folk poetry, was collected by Finnish folklorist Elias Lönnrot and is now considered the national saga of Finland.)

India National Science Day (Indian inventions include an ancient form of chess, chaturanga, ludo, snakes and ladders, and kabaddi; incense clocks; Indian ink; rulers – made of ivory; all kinds of fabric like calico, muslin, etc.; sugar refining; the number zero)

Taiwan Peace Memorial Day

6th December

St Nicholas Day

2006 water found on Mars




Johann Christian Bach born 1642 – famous for the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor and Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor

Finland’s Independence Day



Finland was first settled about 8,500 years ago as the Ice Age receded.

Swedish kings took over in the 12th century in the Northern Crusades. By the 17th century, Swedish was the language of the aristocrats and Finnish was the language of the peasants.

Russia invaded twice in the 18th century, which Finns call the Greater Wrath and the Lesser Wrath. During the Greater Wrath nearly a whole generation of Finnish men was lost as Russia destroyed homes, farms and set fire to Helsinki. From 1809-1917 Finland was part of the Russian Empire.

In 1835 the Kalevala was published, and the Finnish language gained equal status to Swedish in 1892.

After the February Revolution in Russia in 1917 deposed the tsar, Finland was a bit confused as to who was now in charge of it. As Russia was taken over by Communists, Finland declared itself independent. However, they then fell into civil war between the Whites (right-wing) and the Reds (left). The Whites won and tens of thousands of reds were put in internment camps or executed. In 1919 Finland became a presidential republic.

During WWII Finland fought Russia in the Winter War of 1939-40, and then again after Finland allied with Germany against Russia. Then in 1944 Finland signed an armistice with Russia and then fought against Germany, who were retreating from Russia in northern Finland.

Finland lost 10% of its land and 20% of its industry in the treaties with Russia that followed.

In the 1990s, after Soviet Russia’s collapse, Finland’s main trading partner, it had a bad recession. Finland is one of the world’s oldest countries, with half of voters aged over 50.

Its national animal is the brown bear. It also has wolverines, wolves and elk. It has warm summers but is covered in snow from November to April. At Finland’s northernmost point, the sun never sets for 73 days of summer, and never rises for 51 days of winter.

ST NICHOLAS LIVES HERE! IN LAPLAND! Coincidence that their independence day is on St Nicholas’ Day?



Spain Constitution Day:

Spain was originally populated by Iberians, Basques and Celts; from 210 B.C. it became part of the Roman Empire. But when the Germanic Vandals and Suevi along with Iranian Alans (imagine a whole tribe of Alans! Terrifying.) were driven into Spain by the (also Germanic) Visigoths, the western Roman empire began to disintegrate. [V]Andalusia is named after the Vandals.

In the 8th century Muslim North African Moorish conquered most of Spain. Their capital, Cordoba, was the wealthiest and most advanced city in Western Europe.

The Reconquiesta was the Christian conquering of Muslim Iberia. During this time a kingdom called the Crown of Aragon flourished, ruling from the east of Spain across to Italy, and later joined with the Crown of Castile and then pushed the Muslim rulers out. Everyone was going to get along, honest, until the Spanish Inquisition told the Jews to convert to Catholicism or be expelled – then the Muslims too.

In 1492 Christopher Columbus found the New World on Spain’s behalf and Spain emerged as the first world power, leading Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries and owning bits of everywhere, like Belgium, France, Germany, Africa, the Americas, Italy, the Netherlands, etc., did.

But the Spanish Hapsburg rulers of this empire, Charles I and Philip II, imposed harsh Roman Catholic rules on their lands and the Protestant Reformation against this caused revolts and wars and dragged the empire down. In particular it lost its bits of France, the Netherlands and Portugal.

The Thirty Years’ War, which involved most of Europe mostly fighting over who should be Catholic and who should be Protestant, ruined Spain further.

In the end, the civil war called the War of Spanish Secession put a French king on the throne, the Bourbon Philip V, uniting the remaining bits of Spain into a single state. It was no longer the top power in Europe.

After France overthrew its monarchy, Spain declared war on them… and lost.

Napoleon persuaded Spain to join him in a declaration of war against Portugal and Britain. Then he took his army ‘through’ Spain to ‘invade’ Portugal…and conquered Spain on the way. Embarrasing.

Spain started a war of independence against France, and with Britain’s help and also with Napoleon greedily over-stretching himself with a war against Russia, France was booted out of Spain.

Spain was left poor and unstable, so most of the Spanish Americas took the opportunity to declare their independence from Spain.

In the 20th century Spain managed to colonise some bits of Africa – the Western Sahara, Morocco, Equitorial Guinea, but lost its monarchy and became a republic, which allowed the separate regions of Spain to have autonomy.

The Spanish Civil War (1936-9) was won by the facist Nazi-supporting side under Franco.

Russia, America and Mexico had tried to help but Britain officially wasn’t bothered. Thanks to Franco likewise not being bothered about Britain or Nazis, Spain managed to keep out of World War II and so later wasn’t allowed in the UN, but gained American support as Franco was anti-Communist.

For some reason, even though Spain was a republic, Franco had passed a law that let him choose his successor who would also be king. But King Juan Carlos I (who is still king today) very kindly allowed a democratic parliament to run the country with him.

Spain is famous for: Altamira cave paintings; Spanish Inquisition; Spanish Miracle; Don Quixote; Gaudi; Dali; Picasso; flamenco; Spanish guitar; paella; gazpacho; arroz negro (made with squid ink!); Castilian soup (ham and garlic); bull fighting; La Tomatina (a tomato fight involving like 90,000 people); tapas; siestas; Spanish Tortilla; Guggenheim Museum; El Carnaval de Cádiz; Las Fallas; La Feria de Abril in Seville; Las Fiestas de San Fermín in Pamplona; La Feria de Malaga; La Virgen del Carmen, patroness of fishermen, with celebrations in all coastal towns on July 16th; saffron; mazapan; turron.

6th November

1947 Michelle Magorian born, author of Goodnight Mr Tom

Tatarstan Constitution Day

Finnish-Swedish Heritage Day

Marche Verte (Anniversary of the Green March, Morocco tried to force Spain to hand over its bit of the Sahara with a mass demo)

Dominican Constitution Day – see 27th February

Tajikstan Constitution Day – see 27th June

27th July

1054 Siward, Earl of Northumbria, defeats Macbeth, king of Scotland – older kids might enjoy the BBC’s animated tales or Oddsocks. Actually there’s no ‘ might’ for the latter – kids aged 8+ (and adults) WILL LOVE THEM.

1940 ‘A Wild Hare’, Bugs Bunny debut

1870 Hillaire Belloc born – try this book, it’s lovely (and disturbing)

Finland’s National Sleepy Head Day, when the last person to wake up is woken with water, perhaps even being thrown into a lake.

North Korea Victory Day (over South Korea, 1953)

José Celso Barbosa’s Birthday: (Puerto Rico celebrates founder of their Republican party.)

Columbus found Puerto Rico in 1493, when it was inhabited by the native Taino. From the 16th century Spanish came to colonise the island and used the Taino for forced labour.

When they killed them off with smallpox, etc., they had to import African slaves to work for them. Spain tried to keep the islanders on side by allowing them to vote in Spanish elections, but the slaves kept revolting and the people wanted independence.

To try and dilute this, Spain offered free land to any Europeans wanting to settle on the island.

Around 1890 the US started to think about building a navy, and the Panama Canal, and tried to buy Puerto Rico and Cuba from Spain. Spain said no, but in 1898 America helped Cuba in their revolution, and Spain and America went to war (imagine that happening now).

This resulted in America taking Puerto Rico. The US offered Puerto Ricans American citizenship, but the Puerto Ricans thought this was just so the US could conscript them into WWI.

It is now a Commonwealth of the US, and no one’s really sure what that means. Ricky Martin is Puerto Rican.

9th June


1934 Donald Duck debuts

Other events today:

  • King Abdullah II’s anniversary of ascension to the throne (Jordan – see 25th May)
  • Aland Islands Autonomy Day (a Swedish-speaking set of islands in Finland)
  • La Rioja Day and Murcia Day (regions in Spain; the former famous for St Millan monasteries where the first Spanish words were ever written down; the latter for its Easter parades, and the tallest bell tower in Spain)

5th February

Weatherpersons’ Day (USA) – so set up a weather station.

Runeberg’s Day

– so make a Runeberg tart and listen to the Finnish national anthem, which he wrote.


Sapporo Snow Festival

So make your own ice sculptures:

… or make snow dough:

or this recipe:

Burundi Unity Day – see 1st July

San Marino’s Anniversary of the Liberation of the Republic from the Alberoni Occupation and St Agatha’s Day – see 28th July

Mexico Constitution Day – see 16th September

Pakistan Kashmir Day (protests against India’s rule of Kashmir) – see 14th August