At a certain point in spring, I heard explosions going off. Not just little pops, either -- major bangs. It was loud enough that I checked the news in case there had been a gas explosion or, you know, a war. But then I got it: It was the Festival of Fire and Nowruz: a celebration in March that's basically New Year's, if you celebrate New Year's by building bonfires in the street, shooting fireworks at each other, and doing doughnuts in your car in the middle of crowded intersections.
Nothing reminds us of the holidays like the earthy smell of burned rubber.
One of my friends reported that he had spent part of the day in a car while the occupants exchanged fireworks with other cars on the freeway at 60 mph. There are thousands of injuries, with over half resulting from homemade grenades, naturally. Oh -- and did I mention how many people are dressed as Blackface Santa? Sure, the character's face is supposed to be covered in soot, but no amount of cultural understanding can prepare you for your first sight of children boarding a midnight bus looking like they're on their way to a minstrel show.
Pedramgh, via Wikipedia
Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1899.
You might think, "Wow, Muslim festivals are pretty badass," but the truth is that Nowruz actually comes from Zoroastrianism, a religion older than either Christianity or Islam. Only 35,000 to 90,000 Iranians (out of 74 million) self-identify as Zoroastrian, but you wouldn't know it when pretty much everyone celebrates their major holidays -- although, again, who on Earth would pass up an opportunity to celebrate "blow up everything day"?
Mehdi Ghasemi, Islamic Society of North America
Their sparklers can flash-fry a horse.
Despite the fact that Zoroastrian values have had a massive influence on Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the country is currently divided on how to treat this ancient religion that everyone celebrates despite technically not belonging to it. While some have persecuted them, and members have historically been treated as second-class citizens in ways that don't really work for comedy websites, the fact that the entire country seems hell-bent on keeping Zoroastrianism around means that even though we've managed to avoid any actual war with them, Iran is likely to continue kicking our asses at partying for the foreseeable future.
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