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.
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.
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."
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.
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!