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Obama Day in Kenya, and other memorable national holidays

People watch fireworks during Bonfire Night festivities in Lewes, southern England. The annual celebrations mark the capture of Guy Fawkes, a conspirator in the unsuccessful 1605 Gunpowder Plot aimed at killing King James I.


Here are five national holidays celebrated somewhere in the world – and two oddball ringers:

Obama Day

Barack Obama may be lumped in with all the other presidents on Presidents' Day in the United States, but since 2008 the people of Kenya, where Mr. Obama's father was born, have celebrated Obama Day on Nov. 6.

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Kamuzu Day

In Malawi, authoritarian ruler Hastings Kamuzu Banda declared Kamuzu Day an annual holiday. The country abolished it in 1994 after he was pushed from power, but revived the holiday in 2008. Maybe Malawians were nostalgic for such Kamuzu edicts as the banning of the Simon and Garfunkel song Cecilia to spare the feelings of his consort, Cecilia Kadzamira.

Moi Day

Daniel arap Moi, who became Kenya's president in 1978 and declared the country a one-party state in 1982, received his own national holiday in 1989 by a vote of the country's parliament. As an egotism bonus point, Moi is French for Me. Alas, the holiday was taken off the list in 2010, eight years after Moi left power.

Mother Teresa Day

Albania celebrates this national holiday on Oct. 19. An antidote to the Kamuzu and Moi days.

Astana Day

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This July 6 holiday (proclaimed in 2008) is technically in honour of the capital of Kazakhstan, but the late dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev declared that it would be held on his birthday – and he, after all, was the one who moved the capital from Almaty to Astana in 1998.

Guy Fawkes Day/Night

More a celebration than a holiday, this Nov. 5 event in England commemorates the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in which Fawkes and other Roman Catholic conspirators tried to blow up Parliament and the Catholic-averse King James I. The Fawkes mask devised for the graphic novel (and film) V for Vendetta has been used by the Occupy movement and other protest groups.

International Talk Like William Shatner Day

Again, it's not a public holiday, but this tribute to the Montreal-born actor must count for something. Canadian Maurice LaMarche, who voiced the Brain on the animated TV series Pinky and the Brain and was doubtlessly inspired by International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19), created as Mr. Shatner's day on March 22 in 2009. Mr. Shatner paid it forward the next year by helping talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel declare Nov. 6 to be National Unfriend Day, on which one dumps one's unwanted Facebook friends. Anyone for International Rant Like Rick Mercer Day?

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