International Children's Day: Remember how it used to be?

Germany has two anniversaries for and with children

Article was written on 03.06.2020 by Stefanie.

Due to the former division of East and West Germany, there are two days in the Federal Republic of Germany on which International Children's Day is celebrated. All over the world, now in over 147 countries, Children's Day is celebrated in different ways. Above all, this day is celebrated in honour of children, but also to take up politically relevant topics such as children's rights and to draw attention to them.

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International Children's Day: Remember how it used to be?

Experience from East and West

Yesterday evening, during dinner, I talked with L. about the upcoming Children's Day on June 1st. He told me that as a child it was a special day for him. Most of the time there were no lessons and something special was done with the children, for example a class trip. But also leisure clubs took part with bigger events like music and dance. The adults really tried their best and the children's interests were the centre of attention. His eyes lit up and a mischievous smile appeared on his face. That must have been a great day for children! L. was born in the former GDR.

I don't know what that is. For me, World Children's Day is on 20 September and is a rather political issue, it didn't have much to do with me as a child at that time. Besides, I have to admit that I didn't even know that day before my training as a kindergarten teacher.

Germany has two anniversaries for and with children

And indeed: There are two "childhood days". These two dates originated in the time when East and West Germany were still divided. On the one hand, there is the so-called "International Children's Day" on 1 June. This was introduced in 1950 in the east of Germany and in other socialist countries. If you grew up in the GDR, you may also know the festivals or excursions for children.

A few years later, in 1954, the United Nations followed suit and introduced September 20 as "World Children's Day" to discuss children's rights in political debates. Since the reunification of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990, there are now two Children's Days - we are probably the only country with two Children's Days!

2 days to give children a voice

Today, more than 145 countries around the world celebrate these days. On the one hand, the Children's Days are celebrated in honour of the children, on the other hand, politically relevant topics concerning the rights of children are taken up. How the countries handle this is very different (please note that this list can only cover a fraction of the actions in the individual countries).

This is how countries all over the world celebrate the Day for Children:

  • In China, children under 13 years of age have no school on Children's Day and adults can get special leave to spend that day with their children.
  • In Turkey it is a national holiday (in Turkish: Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayramı), sometimes it is even celebrated for a whole week. There, children are allowed to choose a profession and to slip into the role of an adult. Because children are the following adults. By the way, in 1920 Turkey was also the first country to create a Children's Day.
  • In Poland, Children's Day (in Polish: Dzień Dziecka) is celebrated with small activities such as a trip to the zoo and gifts for the children.
  • In Mexico (in Spanish: Día del Niño) schoolyards are decorated and piñatas are filled with sweets. In the cities there are big events for children.
  • In Russia, on the International Day of the Child (in Russian: Международный день защиты детей), there are fundraising campaigns for poor children and protests by anti-abortion activists, but also festive events for children.

Every day can be a children's day

And just as it is with mother and father days, the attention for our children does not need a fixed day, because every day you should keep a little bit of the childhood days!

In the next few weeks we will write again in more detail on the subject of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Child Rights). Because in many countries there are strong disadvantages and great child poverty. Do children need rights? We think so: Yes, absolutely! And with this opinion we are (fortunately!) not alone.

Are you celebrating Children's Day or do you have nice memories from your childhood?

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