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.
Belarus's 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 (especially 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 degrees 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.
- In Liberia, you could celebrate by eating goat soup. The rest of us can enjoy making African-mask collages. (According to “Countries and Their Cultures,” Liberia is home of the “classical” African mask.)