5th March

1853 Howard Pyle born, who wrote and illustrated The Adventures of Robin Hood and Tales of King Arthur

St Piran’s Day, national day of Cornwall – so make fudge:


a cream tea

or a Cornish pastie.

Try a Furry dance, listen to a Cornish piper or try the Cornish language.


Vanuatu Custom Chief’s Day:


My favourite fact about Vanuatu, which is really a group of islands or archipelago, is that there are people living on Tanna who revere Prince Philip as a god. Most villages have male and female sections, and if you’re a girl on your period, you are expected to stay in a zone reserved for menstruating women. It was Spanish from 1605, then France and the UK shared it from the 1880s until its independence in 1980.

29th November

1972 Atari release video game Pong

1898 C.S. Lewis born – read the Narnia books. Readalouddad recommends this version. They’re probably good to read from age 8.

Yugoslavia Republic Day (no longer observed because it doesn’t exist!)

Yugoslavia means Southern Slavs; it was founded in 1918 after WWI. At first it was called the Kingdom of Slavs, Croats and Slovenes but nobody really bothered calling it that – we called it the Versailles State as that was the treaty which founded it.

The prince regent of Serbia became king of Yugoslavia, King Alexander I. There was a shoot-out in his parliament in 1928; to help pull everyone together he suspended parliament, renamed the country Yugoslavia and redid the constitution. He resigned as dictator in 1931 and was assassinated three years later.

Supported by Italy and Germany, the Croats’ part of Yugoslavia declared itself ‘Croatia’.

In 1941 German, Italian and Hungarian forces invaded Yugoslavia. They split it up into Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia and Slovenia.

The resistance was divided between pro-royalist, pro-Serb Chetniks and pan-Yugoslav Partisans led by Joseph Broz Tito. Of course, the problem with two resistance groups is that they wasted a lot of time fighting each other, and the Chetniks actually ended up being supported by the Axis Powers. Tsk.

The Partisans because the greatest guerilla resistance in occupied Western/Central Europe, and freed Yugoslavia by 1945.Tito became the head of Yugoslavia as an independent communist state.

When Tito died in 1980, all the different ethic groups wanted their own country. In 1990 the all-Yugoslav Communist party was dissolved and the republics of Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina eventually emerged, after obviously lots of horrendous fighting, especially Kosovo. Serbia and Montenegro wanted to stay together as Yugoslavia, and weren’t officially named Serbia and Montenegro until 2003.

Also today:

  • President Tubmans Birthday (longest-serving Liberian president) – see 26th July
  • Vanuatu Unity Day – see 5th March

5th October

1962 first Bond film and first Beatles single (‘Love Me Do’) released – so we learned some ’60s dancing

Vanuatu Constitution Day (see 5 March)

Portugal Republic Day – see 10th June.

World Teacher’s Day

Simchat Torah (2015): Jews get the Torah out and carries it round the synagogue, and everyone dances and sings.

World Habitat Day (2015, first Monday in October): Can your kid design their ideal habitat? Probably…a sweetie room, a slide instead of stairs, a swimming pool….

30th July

1863 Henry Ford born so build some cars – these amazing ones are made from swing bins, this one is made from Lego and a balloon, and this one uses a battery.

1898 Henry Moore born so make some Playdo sculptures.

Vanuatu Independence Day:

Vanuatu was first inhabited by Melanesian (Pacific Coast islander) people. Portuguese navigator Fernandes de Queirós claimed it for Spain in 1605 and named it Espiritu Santo (Holy Spirit).

In the 1880s France and the United Kingdom claimed bits and agreed to share it as the New Hebrides. An independence movement started in the 1970s, and the Republic of Vanuatu was founded in 1980.

They have the John Frum cult, which basically says an American soldier will grant their wishes. Others worship Prince Philip. Cricket is very popular.

Morocco Feast of the Throne (see 18 November)

21st February

1842 the sewing machine patented – try these easy sewing activities with your little one:

Other events that might inspire your play today:

  • 1958 the peace symbol designed
  • Mother Language Day (International – UNESCO)
  • Bengali Language Movement Day (celebrating Pakistan allowing Bengali to be an official language alongside Urdu in 1956)
  • Birth Anniversary of Fifth Druk Gyalpo (Bhutan)
  • Father Lini Day (Vanuatu – an Anglian priest who was the country’s founding Prime Minister when it gained independence from the UK and France in 1980 – see 5th March)

15th February

St Louis, Missouri, established 1764 – so make ice cream in cones…

Too cold? Try ice cream cone cakes:

… or make iced tea:


… drink 7 Up or make a 7-Up cake:

… watch the Judy Garland movie Meet Me in St Louis:


1971 Decimal Day (Britain changes its money to the decimal system) – so empty your wallet and play shop with real money. There are online games here.

2001 first draft of the complete human genome published in Nature – this blog has some great DNA activities:

Galileo born 1564 – so build a telescope, or visit your local observatory, or do his Leaning Tower of Pisa experiment and drop a heavy and a light object out of a window to see which lands first (hopefully they land at the same time!)

Charles Lewis Tiffany born 1812, founder of Tiffany’s – so make newspaper jewellery;

1874 Sir Earnest Shackleton, Antarctic explorer, born – so go exploring!

Serbia National Day:

Neolithic humans were settled in Serbia 8,500 years ago.

In the Iron Age the Thracians, Dacians and Illyrians developed there, and the Ancient Greeks expanded into south Serbia in the 4th century B.C.

A Celtic tribe of Scordisi invaded, then the Roman Empire in the 2nd century B.C.

17 Roman emperors were born in Serbia, including Constantine the Great.

When the Roman Empire was divided, Serbia remained in the Byzantine Empire.

In the 8th century the Principality of Serbia was ruled by the Vlastimirović Dynasty and adopted Christianity.

The Byzantine Empire annexed it, then it devolved into a Vojislavljević dynasty in Duklja, and the Vukanović dynasty in Rascia called the Serbian Grand Principality.

These two halves were united in 1142, and Stefan Nemanja assumed the throne.

His son, Rastko created the Serbian Church and wrote the world’s oldest known constitution.

Dušan the Mighty doubled the size of Serbia by taking land from Byzantium and becoming Emperor of Serbs and Greeks.

But by 1455 Serbia was completely conquered by the Ottoman and Hapsburg (Austro-Hungarian) Empires.

In the 18th century the word ‘vampire’ began to spread – the most widely used Serbian word in the world. The picture shows a sign in Serbia directing tourists to a mill haunted by a vampire.

In the Russo-Turkish War Serbia tried to gain independence from the Ottoman Empire, and it did, briefly, before the Great Powers decided it was now owned by Austria-Hungary. Ho-hum.

In 1912 the two Balkan Wars defeated the Ottoman Empire and increased Serbia’s land by 80%.

In 1914 Serbian Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and kicked off WWI.

At the end of the war, King Peter I of Serbia became King of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. His son renamed the country Yugoslavia (meaning ‘southern Slavs’), but the Croats eventually became independent again.

In WWII Yugoslavia tried to stay neutral but the Axis powers (the bad guys) invaded, and 90% of Serbia’s Jews were killed.

Yugoslavia was also having a civil war, royalists against communists; 70,000 Serbs were killed in this inner war alone. The communists won.

In 1989 Slobodan Milošević came to power and Yugoslavia broke up, with only Serbia and Montenegro staying in. But ethnic Serbs living in Bosnia and Croatia were cross about not being part of Yugoslavia anymore, so wars broke out.

Serbia supported the ethnic Serbs until the UN imposed sanctions on them and so Serbia’s economy crashed.

In 1990 they were finally allowed democracy, although Milošević didn’t actually concede defeat in elections until 2000 (after NATO bombed Serbia to stop all the fighting in Kosovo).

When he fell, the UN lifted its sanctions and Milošević was sent off to a war crimes court, but died of a heart attack before any judgement.

In 2006 Montenegro separated from Serbia, and in 2008 Kosovo decided it was independent too. Serbia said nope.

Serbia is currently waiting to join the EU.

Serbia is the world’s second-largest plum exporter (after China) and the plum is its national fruit. Try making plum dumplings.

Listen to Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac’s music, Željko Joksimović or Boban Marković, or watch a kolo dance.

A special part of Serbian culture is the Slava, when Serbians celebrate their family’s patron saint’s day with Slava bread, red wine, and a bowl of boiled wheat.

Other events today that might inspire your play:

  • Afghanistan Liberation Day (Soviet withdrawal, 1989) – see 19th August,
  • John Frum Day (Vanuatu) – see 5th March.
  • Canada’s Flag Day – see 1st July.
  • Susan B. Anthony Day (US) (women’s rights/suffrage activist)