Happy Lenin’s Birthday

Today is Earth Day, aka Vladimir Lenin’s Birthday.   In 1969, the United Nations proposed March 21, 1970, as the first official, international Earth Day.  In the United States, a separate Earth Day holiday was declared by Sen. Gaylord Nelson on April 22, 1970, which also happened to be  the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s birth.  Ironically, Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom award for his work.


Denis Hayes, of the nonprofit Earth Day Network, chaired the first Earth Day in 1970, proclaiming it the largest secular holiday in the world. 

Nelson chose the date in order to maximize participation on college campuses for what he conceived as an “environmental teach-in”. He determined the week of April 19–25 was the best bet as it did not fall during exams or spring breaks.  Moreover, it did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover, and was late enough in spring to have decent weather. More students were likely to be in class, and there would be less competition with other mid-week events—so he chose Wednesday, April 22. The day also fell after the anniversary of the birth of noted conservationist John Muir.

Unbeknownst to Nelson, April 22, 1970, was coincidentally the 100th anniversary of the birth of, Vladmir Lenin when translated to the Gregorian calendar (which the Soviets adopted in 1918).   Time magazine reported that some suspected the date was not a coincidence, but a clue that the event was a Communist trick, and quoted a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution as saying, “subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them [the Communists, that is]. 

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover may have found the Lenin connection intriguing; it was alleged the FBI conducted surveillance at the 1970 demonstrations.  The idea that the date was chosen to celebrate Lenin’s centenary still “persists” [according to Wikipedia] in some quarters, an idea borne out by the similarity with the subbotnik [Volunteer Day] instituted by Lenin in 1920 as days on which people would have to do community service, which typically consisted in removing rubbish from public property and collecting recyclable material. Subbotniks were also imposed on other countries within the compass of Soviet power, including Eastern Europe, and at the height of its power the Soviet Union established a nation-wide subbotnik to be celebrated on Lenin’s birthday, April 22, which had been proclaimed a national holiday celebrating communism by Nikita Kruschev in 1955.

On this Earth Day, I celebrate the fact that the resident squirrels took out a second bird feeder on my Ugly Neighbor’s property.  They took the first one down while she was away (possibly in the hospital).  It’s how I knew she wasn’t around.  The thing lay on the ground for two weeks before the landscapers moved, and lay on the porch for yet another week before it disappeared.


In retaliation, she tried to smash my “Welcome” statue; but she succeeded in only breaking the back, not the front.  To further annoy me, she placed her trash barrel on the side of her patio nearest mine, which she had been told not to.  Happily, this gave Mr. & Mrs. Squirrel more convenient access to her second bird feeder.   Within a week, it was gone.

I have nothing against feeding birds.  As a matter of fact, I had an excellent birdfeeder tower that allowed maximum birdfeeding.  I derived great enjoyment watching the sparrows squabble over food.  But then the Bag of Bones moved in, and promptly called the Health Department and complained about scattered seed (seed which she herself had scattered), further whining that it drew wild animals.  Ironically, she has – or had – numerous birdfeeders set up around her patio.  In addition, she feeds the wild ducks along the brook, which our by-laws specifically forbid.


So on this Earth Day, I would like to thank the squirrels for their (unintentionally) beneficent work.


            Thank you for the food we eat

            Thank you for the world so sweet.

            Thank you for the birds that sing

            Thank you, God (and the squirrels) for everything.



Published in: on April 22, 2013 at 3:40 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

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