Building Family Bonds by Celebrating Grandparents Day

Grandparents celebrate Grandparents Day by spending time with their grandchild

There’s nothing as genuine as the smile of a grandparent holding a newborn grandchild. From that moment, a lifelong bond is formed. There are many ways to strengthen that important relationship, including celebrating Grandparents Day around the world. The United States celebrates Grandparents Day on the first Sunday in September after Labor Day, but Grandparents Day is also celebrated on other days in over 20 countries.

When Did Grandparents Day Get Started?

Grandparents Day in the United States started in 1978, thanks to the efforts of mother and housewife Marian McQuade. McQuade convinced politicians in West Virginia to proclaim the first Grandparents Day in the state. She continued to lobby for national observance until Jimmy Carter finally proclaimed the holiday in 1978.

The United Kingdom has been celebrating its own Grandparents Day since 1990. The holiday was first introduced by a charity, Age Concern, and has been celebrated in the UK on the first Sunday in October since 2008.

Australia's Grandparents Day first began in 2010 and is celebrated on the last Sunday in October.

Italy's Grandparents Day is officially known as "Festa Nazionale dei Nonni." This holiday began in Italy in 2005 and is celebrated each year on October 2.

Several countries celebrate Grandparents Day on the second Sunday in September, including Hong Kong, Estonia, and the Philippines. Grandparents Day for these countries began in 1990, 2010, and 1987, respectively.

Grandparents Day is a day to spend time with grandparents, give them gifts, and honor them in many different ways.

Fun Facts about Grandparents Day

  • Since 1978, at least 22 countries have adopted Grandparents Day.
  • Poland has celebrated a separate Grandmothers Day and Grandfathers Day since 1964.
  • The forget-me-not, a beautiful, blue flower, is the symbol of Grandparents Day.
  • In 2021, Pope Francis announced the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly to be celebrated each year on the fourth Sunday of July.
  • In the United States, about 4 million greeting cards are sent each year for Grandparents Day.
About 4 million greeting cards are send each year for Grandparents Day in the U.S.

The Purpose of Grandparents Day

The connection between grandparents and grandchildren is unlike any other relationship. Science shows that grandparents live longer and kids are more emotionally resilient when they spend time together. Close inter-generational relationships also help kids to have a stronger sense of personal identity. Speaking of grandparents, Pope Francis said, "They remind us that old age is a gift and that grandparents are the link between generations, passing on the experience of life and faith to the young."

Grandchild spends time with his grandparents on National Grandparents Day.

How Do You Celebrate Grandparents Day?

The whole family can be involved in planning Grandparents Day activities, from a fun get-together to Zoom or FaceTime calls. The possibilities are endless. For creative ideas, check out the following articles.

These suggestions are great for Grandparents Day, but they are also ideal throughout the year.
October 25, 2018
What do you know about your grandmother? Here's some questions you can ask your grandma to get to know her better.
September 18, 2015
One way to honor grandparents is to talk about their family heritage.
September 3, 2015
A how-to article about staying connected with grandparents and helpful tips for using the Family Tree app to save grandparent stories for generations to come.
No matter how much distance lies between families, this article explains ways to stay connected.
October 24, 2019
What Halloween costumes did your grandparents wear? A discussion could lead to some entertaining stories.
September 6, 2019
Learn what people from all over the world call their grandmas.
September 19, 2014
Write down your favorite story about your grandma, and share it with those you love.

Make lasting memories on Grandparents Day by sharing favorite old-time songs, creating a new tradition, or making up jokes with your grandparents. If you have fun together, it won’t matter whether you’re together in one place or meeting virtually. And don’t forget to record those precious memories on FamilySearch Memories!

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