At a visit to Chaoyang Park this past Saturday, a sign at the gate said that due to “Children’s Day,” kids under 14 years old could get in for free. Jealous of the xiaopengyou (little friends) that got to enjoy a whole day of free rides at the playground, I couldn’t help remembering the Children’s Day of my youth.
When I was growing up, “June 1st International Children’s Day” (liu yi guoji ertongjie) was the day that my friends and I would eagerly anticipate since the beginning of May. To us, June 1st had always been known as the day when “children of the whole world celebrate their special holiday together,” or so we were told by our teachers. On this day, the school would organize a children film or a performance for us to celebrate in the morning, then we’d get the afternoon off. Sometimes we even received a gift from the school, like a little cartoon thermos or a children’s book. No teacher or parents would raise their voices at us if we went hysterical at our silly little jokes or ran around in the courtyard like maniacs, or stayed out past dinner time playing games. For kids like us, who’d usually bury our faces in books and homework on a weekday, June 1st was our one day of paradise throughout the whole year.
It wasn’t until my early twenties when I realized that different parts of the world celebrate Children’s Day on different dates—we’d always thought all the children of the world were celebrating with us! A quick search on Wikipedia showed me all the different children days that are celebrated around the world. The June 1st International Children’s Day that Chinese people celebrate has its origins in the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland in 1925. There’s also Universal Children’s Day that falls on November 20, which was created by the United Nations in 1954. In addition, many countries honor their children on their own chosen dates. Canada holds their Children’s Day on November 20; Australia celebrates it on the forth Wednesday of October; some central African countries honor all the children on December 25; Turkey celebrates Children’s Day on April 23; in India Children’s Day is celebrated on November 14; Mexico’s children celebrate their special holiday on April 30, Sweden’s Children’s Day is on October 2, and in Japan, Children’s Day is on May 5.
No matter how the dates differ, Children’s Day is a holiday dedicated to all the kids. Check out these videos of children in different parts of the world celebrating it their own way: