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.

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2nd June

1896 Marconi applies to patent his radio

1953 Elizabeth II crowned, the first major international event on telly. Check if your kid can recognise the queen and know that she appears on stamps and lives in Buckingham Palace. Maybe make a pretty crown and make your own stamps by tracing a shadow profile.

Festa della Republica (Italy celebrates voting for a republic after the fall of Fascism post-WWII)

Italy’s original Indo-European tribes were the Umbrians, Latins, Celts, Volsci, Samnites and Ligures, as well as some unique tribes that are not classified as Indo-European, like the Etruscans and Sardinians.

Rome began as an agricultural community in 753 B.C. and eventually spread from Britain to Persia.

Roman activities: Go to the library and get a book on ancient Rome or Roman myths, learn Roman numerals, build an amphitheatre out of Lego, wear a toga, make a mosaic. Are there any old Roman buildings near you?

In 395 A.D. the Roman Empire split into two parts, East and West. The eastern half became Byzantium; the west dissolved in 476 A.D. after being invaded by Germanic Barbarians, Goths and Vandals.

Italy was then taken by Byzantium, then the Germanic Lombards, then Charlemagne (also called Charles the Great)’s Frankish Empire (which is what France is now named after). Charlemagne became the new Holy Roman Emperor, a title which vied with the Pope for rule over western Christianity and Italy.

In 1176 northern Italy managed to become independent, pushing out the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa, while southern Italy, hugely involved in the Crusades, became a leading power in the Mediterranean, dominating the Oriental trade routes.

Southern Italy eventually became a united kingdom, while the north became the Signorie, city-states that fought a lot. In 1454 the signing of the Peace of Lodi brought peace to the Signorie.

Can you build a Lego Leaning Tower of Pisa?

The Renaissance began, with patronage of the arts by the Medici family and a lot of clever Greek people coming over to escape the Ottoman Empire. Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci are the most famous Italian Renaissance men.

Then Italy started fighting everyone, including itself; meanwhile, everyone else discovered America and new ways to get to the East, and Italy’s power and money started to disappear.

Spain owned Italy in 1559-1713, then Austria took over until 1796.

In the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon made Italy a client state of France, and he made his brother-in-law King of Naples (which was the name for the whole of the south at that point).

Italy allied with France and Prussia to get rid of Austria, and then while France was fighting Prussia Italy pushed France out too. Northern Italy became industrial and rich, southern Italy remained poor.

Italy began empire-building, taking Somalia, Eritrea, Libya and the Dodecanese (Greek islands).

Italy was instrumental in ending WWI with the Vittorio Veneto, a massive offensive which led to Austria-Hungary asking for the armistice.

Italy was now united, although it had lost some Italian people in the newly independent Yugoslavia, and had acquired many Slavs and German-speaking Tyroleans in the land it had accumulated during the war.

Then Italy went a bit nuts and anarchic, until the Nationalist Fascist Party led a coup to take power, and the king agreed, firing the old president and appointing the NFP’s leader, Mussolini.

Well, he banned all the other parties and most personal freedom, inspiring Hitler and Franco.

In 1935 Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, which led to Italy being kicked out of the League of Nations.

In WWII Italy sided with Germany and Japan (definitely the bad guys), and supported Franco during the Spanish Civil War.

The Allies invaded Sicily and moved up to fight Germany in the north; the Facist Party toppled but Mussolini still ruled north Italy for the Nazi Party until 1945 when both surrendered.

Italy had to give back its Yugoslavian and French territories it had gained in WWI, and all of its empire except Somalia.

During WWII Italy committed war crimes in Yugoslavia, Ethiopia and Greece, but got away with it because the Prime Minister, Pietro Badoglio (who was on the list of people who had led the war crimes, as he was a general in the war), was anti-Communist.

In 1946 Italy became a Republic, celebrated today. This meant the royal family had to leave.

In 1948 Italy didn’t vote Communist, which meant it received financial help from America’s Marshall Plan and its economy, totally ruined in WWII, was able to recover. Italy had its own Cold War though, and suffered from internal neo-fascist terrorism in the 1960s-’80s.

In the 1990s the political parties had to re-organise and re-brand themselves after voters got sick of the corruption and massive debts they were causing.

Other Italian activity ideas: Have a pizza party! The most Italian pizza is the Margarita, named after the Italian queen and showing the red (tomato), yellow (cheese) and green (basil) of the Italian flag. A tomato, cheese and basil salad is also a great way to celebrate today.

North Korea Children’s Day – see 27th December

1st May

May Day:

Make a maypole:

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http://www.marthastewart.com/268025/may-day-celebration

Or a mini maypole:

may-day-diy

http://studiodiy.com/2012/04/24/diy-mini-maypole-cakes/

Crown a May queen:

etsy

or make a Green Man:

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Make May baskets and deliver them secretly to neighbours:

 

skiptomyloumayday2

 

howtomakealeiforkidseasy2

1785 Kingdom of Hawai’i’ formed, so make a lei for Lei Day

 

1840 Penny Black, the first official stamp, released

 

1930 Pluto, dwarf planet, named

 

1931 Empire State Building dedicated

 

Festa Dei Serpari (Cocullo, Italy, celebrates its patron saint St Dominick by catching snakes, removing their fangs then using them like tinsel decorations on statues of saints).

Other events today:

  • 1948 North Korea established – see 27th December
  • Kazakhstan People’s Unity Day – see 30th August
  • Latvia Constitution Day – see 18th November
  • Marshall Islands Constitution Day
  • Dia del Trabajo (Day of the Worker, Latin America)
  • 1328 Scotland gains independence from England – see 30th November
  • 1707 Scotland and England join up again into Britain
  • 1786 Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro first performed

27th December

Johannes Kepler born (1571)

Johannes Kepler Kopie eines verlorengegangenen Originals von 1610

– I think he discovered that planets speed up as their orbit takes them closer to the sun, and slow down as they get furthest away.

Louis Pasteur born (1822)

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– most famous for inventing ‘pasteurisation’, boiling milk or wine to kill poisonous bacteria. He proved that micro-organisms do not spontaneously appear; they only grow in contaminated areas. Try this bread experiment.

The Third Day of Christmas

N. Korea Constitution Day: Up to the beginning of the 20th century, Korea always tried to stay out of the West’s way, and so was known as the ‘Hermit Kingdom’. In 1910 Japan took Korea and ruled it by force for 35 years.

After World War II, Japan surrendered to the Allies and Korea was divided between Russia and America. North Korea was, of course, the Russian side.

Russia and America withdrew and tried to allow the two sides to govern themselves again – except the country had now been artificially divided and the North thought it should rule the South and the South thought it should rule the North.

In 1950, after North Korea had repeatedly asked Russia “Can we invade yet? Can we invade yet? Can we invade yet?”, it began the Korean War with Russian and Chinese support. America, etc., supported South Korea.

In 1953, after 2 million had died, an armistice was declared, but it was not until 2007 that both sides agreed that the war was officially over. In the 1990s it had a horrible famine, during which America was actually the biggest donator of foreign aid.

Activities: The Mass Games.

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.

2nd June

1896 Marconi applies to patent his radio

1953 Elizabeth II crowned, the first major international event on telly. Check if your kid can recognise the queen and know that she appears on stamps and lives in Buckingham Palace. Maybe make a pretty crown and make your own stamps by tracing a shadow profile.

Festa della Republica (Italy celebrates voting for a republic after the fall of Fascism post-WWII)

Italy’s original Indo-European tribes were the Umbrians, Latins, Celts, Volsci, Samnites and Ligures, as well as some unique tribes that are not classified as Indo-European, like the Etruscans and Sardinians.

Rome began as an agricultural community in 753 B.C. and eventually spread from Britain to Persia.

Roman activities: Go to the library and get a book on ancient Rome or Roman myths, learn Roman numerals, build an amphitheatre out of Lego, wear a toga, make a mosaic. Are there any old Roman buildings near you?

In 395 A.D. the Roman Empire split into two parts, East and West. The eastern half became Byzantium; the west dissolved in 476 A.D. after being invaded by Germanic Barbarians, Goths and Vandals.

Italy was then taken by Byzantium, then the Germanic Lombards, then Charlemagne (also called Charles the Great)’s Frankish Empire (which is what France is now named after). Charlemagne became the new Holy Roman Emperor, a title which vied with the Pope for rule over western Christianity and Italy.

In 1176 northern Italy managed to become independent, pushing out the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa, while southern Italy, hugely involved in the Crusades, became a leading power in the Mediterranean, dominating the Oriental trade routes.

Southern Italy eventually became a united kingdom, while the north became the Signorie, city-states that fought a lot. In 1454 the signing of the Peace of Lodi brought peace to the Signorie.

Can you build a Lego Leaning Tower of Pisa?

The Renaissance began, with patronage of the arts by the Medici family and a lot of clever Greek people coming over to escape the Ottoman Empire. Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci are the most famous Italian Renaissance men.

Then Italy started fighting everyone, including itself; meanwhile, everyone else discovered America and new ways to get to the East, and Italy’s power and money started to disappear.

Spain owned Italy in 1559-1713, then Austria took over until 1796.

In the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon made Italy a client state of France, and he made his brother-in-law King of Naples (which was the name for the whole of the south at that point).

Italy allied with France and Prussia to get rid of Austria, and then while France was fighting Prussia Italy pushed France out too. Northern Italy became industrial and rich, southern Italy remained poor.

Italy began empire-building, taking Somalia, Eritrea, Libya and the Dodecanese (Greek islands).

Italy was instrumental in ending WWI with the Vittorio Veneto, a massive offensive which led to Austria-Hungary asking for the armistice.

Italy was now united, although it had lost some Italian people in the newly independent Yugoslavia, and had acquired many Slavs and German-speaking Tyroleans in the land it had accumulated during the war.

Then Italy went a bit nuts and anarchic, until the Nationalist Fascist Party led a coup to take power, and the king agreed, firing the old president and appointing the NFP’s leader, Mussolini.

Well, he banned all the other parties and most personal freedom, inspiring Hitler and Franco.

In 1935 Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, which led to Italy being kicked out of the League of Nations.

In WWII Italy sided with Germany and Japan (definitely the bad guys), and supported Franco during the Spanish Civil War.

The Allies invaded Sicily and moved up to fight Germany in the north; the Facist Party toppled but Mussolini still ruled north Italy for the Nazi Party until 1945 when both surrendered.

Italy had to give back its Yugoslavian and French territories it had gained in WWI, and all of its empire except Somalia.

During WWII Italy committed war crimes in Yugoslavia, Ethiopia and Greece, but got away with it because the Prime Minister, Pietro Badoglio (who was on the list of people who had led the war crimes, as he was a general in the war), was anti-Communist.

In 1946 Italy became a Republic, celebrated today. This meant the royal family had to leave.

In 1948 Italy didn’t vote Communist, which meant it received financial help from America’s Marshall Plan and its economy, totally ruined in WWII, was able to recover. Italy had its own Cold War though, and suffered from internal neo-fascist terrorism in the 1960s-’80s.

In the 1990s the political parties had to re-organise and re-brand themselves after voters got sick of the corruption and massive debts they were causing.

Other Italian activity ideas: Have a pizza party! The most Italian pizza is the Margarita, named after the Italian queen and showing the red (tomato), yellow (cheese) and green (basil) of the Italian flag. A tomato, cheese and basil salad is also a great way to celebrate today.

North Korea Children’s Day – see 27th December