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.

16th November

1992 discovery of the Hoxne Hoard. Can you dig for treasure? If you have a budding archaeologist on your hands, a kids’ metal detector might be fun.

Estonia’s Day of Declaration of Sovereignty (do not let your children find out about the Estonian sport of kiiking)

Humans have lived in Estonia for at least 11,000 years. The Romans called the natives the Aesti tribe, which might be who Estonia is named after. In the Viking Age the Estonians were known as Oesilian pirates.

Denmark got annoyed by the Estonian Viking raids, and took it over with the help of Germany in 1207 in the Livonian Crusade, to eradicate Paganism and make it a Christian country. The capital, Tallinn, is said to mean Taani Linna – ‘Danish town’ in Estonian.

In 1343 the Estonian natives tried to rise against the Danish and German rulers, so the king sold it to the Teutonic Order, a Germanic crusader state for 19,000 Koeln marks. There was a series of wars fighting over control of various bits of Estonia, so that by the 1620s the Estonian population was reduced to about 140,000 people.

In 1629 Estonia came under Swedish rule, and the Swedish king gave the peasants better rights. The Protestant Reformation arrived a bit before (1520s), literacy improved and under Swedish rule they gained a university and a printing press. The Estonians call this period the ‘Good Old Swedish Time’.

In 1721 Sweden lost Estonia to Russia. Serfdom was abolished and education became more widely available. The first national epic, Kalevipoeg, was published in 1862.

After WWI Estonia declared its independence, but the Bolsheviks (Lenin’s Russian Communists) fought them about it for 14 months.

In WWII Russia installed lots of military bases for ‘mutual defence’ and then easily took it over. Russia still claims it did not invade Estonia and that it gave Russia rule voluntarily. Then, fearing Germany would take it, destroyed as much of it as possible. Maybe a quarter of the population died at this time, and less than 30% of conscripted men survived.

Germany then ‘helped’ Estonia kick out the Russians – then Germany took it over. Then Russia took it back again in 1944. Tens of thousands of people were deported and not allowed back until the 1960s, after Stalin’s death. Half a million immigrants from other parts of Russia came to help with the military and industry.

In 1989 they had a Singing Revolution, and more than 2 million people formed a human chain through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

https://inspiredkdramafan.wordpress.com/tag/estonia/

On 16 November 1988 Estonia declared itself independent. Russia recognised its independence in 1991, and the last units of the Russian army left in 1994. Estonia joined the EU in 2004.

Skype was invented in Estonia.

Iceland’s Language Day, so maybe learn a bit of Icelandic and learn about volcanoes and geysers

Oklahoma founded (1907): Oklahoma was given to the Native Americans…then the whites moved in anyway. State Capitol building, the Grapes of Wrath.

1st August

Lughnasadh/Lammas:

Beginning of the harvest season, halfway between solstice and equinox. Named after the Irish god of light, Lugh, they originally include the Tailteann Games, in honour of Lugh’s mother Tailtiu who died of exhaustion after clearing the Irish plains for agriculture (maybe symbolising how the earth goddess dies back from here on in the year). Games included the long jump, high jump, running, hurling, spear throwing, boxing, contests in swordfighting, archery, wrestling, swimming, and chariot and horse racing, as well as craft competitions for storytellers, jewellers, etc.

It is traditional to eat bilberries on this day, and to climb a hill or visit a holy well.

It was the day you baked a loaf from the fresh wheat harvest and brought it to church to be blessed and then broken into four pieces, for the four corners of the barn, to protect the grain.

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http://www.somethingcorny.co.uk/

We also made a corn dolly from long grass and lavender.

Australian Picnic Day (2016, first Monday in August, after Chinese labourers working on the railway were freed from their contracts and offered citizenship as well as money to return to Hong Kong. They went for a picnic.)

Swiss National Day

Also today:

  • 1759 Joseph Priestley publishes discovery of oxygen – my kids love this experiment.
  • 1984 the Lindow Man discovered
  • Carribean Carnival celebrates end of slavery in British Empire – so do some calypso dancing; Anguilla/Barbados/Bermuda/Guyana/Jamaica/Trinidad and Tobago/British Virgin Islands/St Lucia Emancipation Days
  • Iceland Commerce Day – see 17th June
  • Benin Independence Day (from France, 1960) – see 10th January
  • Colorado Statehood Day (famous for rodeos and inventing cheeseburgers)
  • Yorkshire Day (definitely a day for tea and Yorkshire puddings)

17th June

Statue of Liberty arrives in New York 1885

1898 M.C. Escher born

1903 Ruth Graves Wakefield invents the chocolate chip cookie

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

Iceland National Day: Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe, with the world’s most northern capital.

It was first populated from 874 A.D. by Norsemen and their Gaelic thralls (slaves).

Before then it may have been the home to some Celtic monks from Scotland and Ireland.

In the Middle Ages it mainly belonged to Norway, and was very poor, the climate being too harsh for much agriculture.

In 1783 the Laki volcano made the world’s biggest volcanic eruption; the ensuing sulphuric gases killed off a lot of farmland and livestock, and many died in the famine.

From 1814 Norway and Denmark were no longer united and Iceland became part of Denmark; meanwhile many moved to the New World as Iceland was still too bloomin’ cold.

During WWII Iceland stayed neutral, but for some reason Britain invaded (perhaps because Germany had invaded Denmark and Britain thought Iceland would be next) and then America did. America stayed throughout the Cold War (i.e., until 1990!) just in case.

Thanks to US financial aid (the Marshall Plan) Iceland’s fishing industry expanded and its economy grew; then its economy switched to finance and banking, which unfortunately ruined its economy from 2008 when all three of its major banks collapsed after running up huge debts.

They eat a lot of fish pickled in brine or smoked meat, particularly lamb. Play a magnetic fishing game – maybe cover it in crushed ice first to make it more authentic.

Make a snúður or a skúffukaka (kinds of cake).

Make a volcano – just drop a Mento in a Cola bottle. Listen to Bjork.

National Juggling Day: So learn to juggle.

25th April

1719 Robinson Crusoe published

1983 Samantha Smith is invited to the Soviet Union by its leader Yuri Andropov – just read about her and feel inspired!

DNA Day (celebrating Watson & Crick’s publication of the structure of DNA). The blog above is really good.

Other events today that might inspire your play:

  • 1599 Oliver Cromwell born
  • Anzac Day (commemorates Australia and New Zealand Army Corps who died fighting WWI)
  • Sinai Liberation Day (Egypt: celebrates Israeli withdrawal from Sinai in 1982)
  • Faroe Islands Flag Day
  • Italy Liberation Day (by Allies from Mussolini’s socialist republic in 1945)
  • Portugal Freedom Day (from the Estado Novo in 1974, a right-wing Catholic oppressive government)
  • North Korea Military Foundation Day (North Korea’s army is the largest military organisation in the world, with nearly 9.5 million soldiers)
  • Red Hat Society Day (a social group for over-50s women in America, who wear purple with a red hat, like the Jenny Joseph poem)
  • Swaziland Flag Day
  • First Day of Summer (Iceland 2013, first Thursday after 18 April)