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Why You Should Wear Crazy Socks, Read A Poem And Plant A Tree Today

Malaka Gharib

The world has a seriously busy day today. March 21 isn't just the date of President Obama's historic trip to Cuba, Apple's highly anticipated iPhone event and Matthew Broderick's 54th birthday.

It's also the busiest spot on the United Nations' calendar of international observances — on this one day, it marks five different "Days." Here's a rundown:

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

On this date in 1960, police in Sharpeville, South Africa, killed 69 peaceful demonstrators protesting the country's apartheid laws. It's remained an important anniversary — and it's also the first day of the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling Against Racism and Racial Discrimination.

The U.N. kicked off observation events on Friday, with a debate in Geneva on the state of racial discrimination worldwide as well as a meeting in New York that was webcast live on U.N. Web TV. Today, a member of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will take questions from the public on Reddit.

World Poetry Day

UNESCO proclaimed this date back in 1999,

To celebrate a way that creativity can shine.

But there's nothing scheduled, or so it seems,

Unless it's happening in poets' dreams.

International Day of Nowruz

Spring officially arrived over the weekend — thank you vernal equinox! — and more than 300 million people around the world celebrate that fact with a holiday. Although it's called the "Persian New Year," Nowruz is observed far beyond Iran. The U.N.'s reason to cheer: It's a day for renewal, respect for nature, a reminder of cultural interchange and eating a lot of sweets.

There are no official U.N. events, but there are plenty of ways to mark Nowruz no matter where you are on the globe.

Happen to be in Chapel Hill? Head to the University of North Carolina this evening for a celebration of its Persian Studies collection. The free, open-to-the-public event will feature lectures, music, calligraphy and cookies.

World Down Syndrome Day

Since 2012, the U.N. has observed a day to raise awareness about this intellectual disability caused by a chromosome disorder. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 3,000 to 5,000 children are born with Down syndrome each year, and often face additional medical problems, including heart disease and hearing deficits.

The U.N. headquarters in New York is hosting a conference highlighting ways to incorporate and include children with Down syndrome in local communities. World Down Syndrome Day organizers also urge people to wear LOTS OF SOCKS — the louder the pattern, the better — so when people ask why, it'll start a conversation. (No, we're not making this up.)

International Day of Forests

But what about lonely trees not in forests? Don't worry — they are also officially considered part of this celebration. (Seriously.) This year's theme is extra inclusive: "Forests and Water." At U.N. headquarters in New York, experts will discuss this connection and how it relates to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

If you can't make it, don't worry. You can still get to the root of the issue: Just plant a tree!

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: March 21, 2016 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of this post got Matthew Broderick's age wrong. He just turned 54, not 53.
Vicky Hallett
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