World Children’s Day 2019: What is it and why is it celebrated?

Annual observance is Unicef's 'global day of action for children, by children'

Sabrina Barr
Wednesday 20 November 2019 11:27
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The aim of World Children’s Day, which is celebrated annually on 20 November, is to raise awareness of and support children’s welfare across the globe.

The observance can trace its origins back to the mid-19th century, when a sermon delivered by a pastor in the US inspired the conception of a day in honour of children.

Here is everything you need to know about World Children’s Day:

What is it’s significance?

World Children’s Day, the United Nations (UN) states, is an event that promotes “international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare”.

The event was formally inaugurated as an international occasion by the UN in 1954.

It subsequently became associated with the UN General Assembly’s 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the organisation’s adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 30 years later.

Sixty years ago, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child set in stone a key universal value for the first time, stating unequivocally that “mankind owes to the child the best it has to give”.

1990 marked the first year that the UN General Assembly adopted both the Declaration and Convention on children’s rights.

The date of World Children’s Day can vary between nations, as countries including China, the Czech Republic and Portugal celebrate it on 1 June.

Unicef, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, outlines that World Children’s Day is a “time to celebrate and a time to demand action”.

“Kids are taking a stand around the world to say: it is time for every child, to have every right,” the organisation states.

How did it begin?

On the second Sunday of June 1856, a pastor of the Universalist Church of the Redeemer in Massachusetts, US named Reverend Dr Charles Leonard delivered a service dedicated to children.

Reverend Leonard’s sermon proved so popular that it inspired a day in honour of children called Rose Day, which was later renamed Flower Sunday.

The observance of Flower Sunday eventually led to the creation of Children’s Day.

The first official declaration of Children’s Day was made by Turkey on 23 April 1929, having already been celebrated across the country for nine years.

When is Children’s Day celebrated in the UK?

While World Children’s Day falls in November every year but the UK’s National Children’s Day is celebrated on 17 May in an effort to encourage children to spend time outdoors in nature.

“National Children’s Day UK is all about the importance of a healthy childhood, and how we need to protect the rights and freedoms of children in order to ensure that they can grow into happy, healthy adults,” states the National Children’s Day UK website.

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