March 15, 2010

National Day – Hungary
Constitution Day – Belarus

J. J. Robert's Birthday – Liberia

Why do countries celebrate certain days as national days? There can be many different reasons, and we can see three of them by looking at three different patriotic holidays celebrated on the same date—today!

Hungary's March 15 National Day honors the beginning of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence. The Hungarians were fighting against Habsburg rule—basically against Austria—but the Austrian emperor asked the Russian czar for help, and the Austrian and Russian armies crushed the Hungarian revolt.

Even though Hungary ultimately lost the war, the leaders of the revolt such as Lajos Kossuth are among the heroes of Hungary's history.

Constitution Day celebrates the 1994 adoption of the constitution, which set up the nation as a presidential republic. Belarus declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990.

J. J. Roberts's Birthday in Liberia is a national holiday that commemorates the birthday of the first and seventh president of Liberia (from 1848 to 1856 and 1872 to 1876). Liberia was founded and colonized by freed American slaves; the government was modeled on that of the United States, and the capital city was named Monrovia after U.S. President James Monroe. Liberia's first president, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, was born in Virginia in the U.S. on March 15, 1809. Roberts's mother was a freed slave, his biological father was the Welshman who had owned his mother, and his stepfather James Roberts was a free negro who owned a boating business and made quite a bit of money.

In 1829 the Roberts family joined the expedition to the west coast of Africa. In the new settlement of Monrovia the family started an import-export business, trading palm products, camwood, and ivory to the U.S. and selling American goods in Monrovia. J.J.'s brothers became a bishop and a doctor, but J.J. Roberts became high sheriff of the colony and then governor of Liberia. On July 26, 1847, Roberts declared Liberia independent.


National holidays tend to honor important events (especi
ally victories but also losses and massacres); the actual founding of the nation, declaration of independence, or establishment of the constitution; or birthdays of important national leaders.

Where in the world are Liberia, Hungary, and Belarus?

For each item below, write “L” or “H” or “B” (or any combination) to say which country lies on the continent, borders the nation, touches the body of water, or is intersected by that line of latitude or longitude.

____ 1. Africa

____ 2. Atlantic Ocean

____ 3. Austria

____ 4. Cote d'Ivorie

____ 5. Croatia

____ 6. Danube River

____ 7. Europe

____ 8. Guinea

____ 9. Latvia

____ 10. Lithuania

____ 11. Poland

____ 12. Pripyat River

____ 13. Romania

____ 14. Russia

____ 15. Sierra Leone

____ 16. Slovakia

____ 17. Slovenia

____ 18. Ukraine

____ 19. 6 degrees North

____ 20. 8 degrees West

____ 21. 20 degrees East

____ 22. 28 degrees East

____ 23. 47 degre
es North

____ 24. 53 degrees North

ANSWERS: 1.L 2.L 3.H 4.L 5.H 6.H 7.B,H 8.L 9.B 10.B 11.B 12.B 13.H 14.B 15.L 16.H 17.H 18.B,H 19.L 20.L 21.H 22.B 23.H 24.B

  • In Hungary, you can celebrate by wearing a patriotic cockade. The rest of us can play with our Rubik's cubes (invented by Hungarian Erno Rubik).

  • In Belarus, you can celebrate by eating a hearty potato babka. The rest of us can play or watch the most popular sport in Belarus, ice hockey.

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