Saturday, April 20, 2013

Reason to Celebrate

I'll bet you missed it. There were a lot of goings-on on April 9, and so it likely slipped your mind. Maybe you were celebrating the victory of the Louisville men's basketball team in the NCAA Finals. Or maybe you were mourning the death of Margaret Thatcher or Annette Funicello. Then again, perhaps you were marveling at Ford's announcement that the Focus was the top selling car in 2012. No matter: it's not too late to send a card. For on that particular Tuesday the Iranian people took time to celebrate National Nuclear Technology Day.

After all, who doesn't love a holiday? Here in this country we have numerous big, national days of celebration, like Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, days where all our fellow citizens come together regardless of race, creed or political stripe. There are also religious holidays, from Easter to Rosh Hashanah, as well as pauses more correctly classified as observances, such as Mother's Day or St. Patrick's. Then there are countless dopey days, such as Houseplant Appreciation Day (January 10), Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19) and Men Make Dinner Day (November 7th). All provide an excuse to get together with friends and have a drink, or in the case of National Pigs In A Blanket Day (April 24), have a, well, you know.

Of course, we're not the only folks looking for an excuse to have a good time. Almost every country has some kind of Independence Day, celebrating the birthday of their modern existence. So if you want to raise a glass to Day One, you can do so on December 16 for Bahrain, June 26 for Madagascar or September 1 for Uzbekistan. If it's religious celebrations you're looking for, try December 12 for Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico, or Diwali, the Festival of Lights, which is a four day holiday usually held in October in India. And yes, other countries have stupid ones too: on a random day in August, people in Nepal celebrate Gai Fatra, or the Procession of the Cows, where every family that has lost a relative during the previous year is supposed to lead a cow (or a young boy dressed as a cow) through the streets. You just have to hope it doesn't fall on the second Sunday in that same month, for that is Turkmen Melon Day, wherein those in Turkmenistan celebrate the musk variety.  

That's not say that Iranians didn't have plenty of feel good opportunities. They too have a national birthday, Revolution Day, which takes place on February 10. And from a religious standpoint, nothing quite says "let's get together with family and friends" like January 12, better known as "Martyrdom of Iman Reza Day." Likewise for July 30, "Martyrdom of Imam Ali Day," or September 2, "Martyrdom of Imam Sadeq Day."

But in a country ruled by a theocracy, the opportunities for a purely "fun" celebration are few and far between. Strike that: they are non-existent. And so the government has stepped in to create holidays which all Iranians can celebrate based on national pride, rather than any specific religious event. Hence you have March 19, Oil Nationalization Day, which this year celebrated the 62nd anniversary of Parliament's throwing out the British company that controlled the key to the country's wealth. Good times!

And in that vein, Dr. Ahmadinejad and his pals have created National Nuclear Technology Day. At a celebration attended by both the President and the head of the country's Atomic Energy Agency, there were speeches and, well, speeches. Two new uranium facilities, one for mining and one for enrichment, were opened (for research purposes only, of course). Also, according to IRINN (the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network), "a domestically made electron accelerator was presented, which will be later manufacture in the country." To assist in the festivities, "Families of the Iranian martyred nuclear scientists were also present." And the capper: "During the ceremony, the President also unveiled five nuclear medicines." Collect them all!

One can only imagine that all over the country schoolchildren were whooping it up. There was the traditional decorating of the bomb shelter, dressing up in radiation suits and yellow cakes shaped like weapons. Or was that uranium yellow cake that was a weapon? No matter, it's a common mistake. But now I can't wait for National Chemical Warfare Day: I have my favorite anthrax spores ready to go.


Marc Wollin of Bedford loves a good holiday. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter 

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