Like all countries, Iran has holidays that commemorate special days in the history of the nation-state. It really cannot be said, however, that these holidays are deeply rooted in the culture. They are political in nature and as such tend to be ephemeral, going in and out of fashion according to the dictates of the time, and rather formless, with few if any clearly defi ned ways of observing them. Those currently being celebrated are thus all of rather recent vintage, replacing the set of such holidays observed during the time of the Pahlavi regime. Most are linked to the events of the Islamic Revolution and the life of Âyatollâh Khomeini: the anniversary of Khomeini’s arrest for leading the protests of 1963 (15 Khordâd/June 5); the “Magnificent Victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran” commemorating Khomeini’s return to Iran and ascension to power in 1979 (22 Bahman/February 12); the plebiscite establishing the Islamic Republic (12 Farvardin/April 1). There is also a holiday commemorating the day on which the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was nationalized in 1951 (29 Esfand/March 20). Perhaps as part of the effort to reduce the number of offi cial holidays, several similar observances no longer seem to be included on the official list (e.g., holidays commemorating the martyrs of the revolution on 17 Shahrivar/September 8 and the assassination of Âyatollâh Beheshti in a bombing of a meeting of the Islamic Republican Party on 7 Tir/June 28). Of all these civil holidays, the one that seems to have acquired a truly substantial and popular place in the culture of the country is that held in observance of the “Heart-Rending Departure of the Great Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran” on the day of Khomeini’s death (14 Khordâd/June 4). In this case, the civil and political aspect of the holiday has merged with two typical aspects of Shi‘ite religious holidays in Iran—the special signifi cance attached to mourning the death of an individual (as opposed to celebrating his or her birth) and the ritual visitation of shrines. On other holidays, people might do nothing more than take a day off from work to enjoy themselves, but this is meant to be a real day of grief. Black fl ags symbolizing mourning are displayed everywhere, and a somber demeanor is more or less mandatory. Many people take the opportunity to spend the day at some place connected to Khomeini: the village of his birth, the city where he received his religious education (Qom), or the massive mausoleum built over his tomb near the entrance to the famous Behesht-e Zahrâ cemetery south of Tehran. For the holiday, literally hundreds of thousands of people visit the Khomeini shrine to observe mourning ceremonies and to listen to sermons of remembrance. Of course, those Iranians who have been disappointed in the outcome of the revolution and who oppose the Islamic government are not interested in participating in any of this. Most activities associated with the holiday are official ones and organized by the government.