International Children's Day
Children's Day was first celebrated on the second Sunday of June in 1857 by Reverend Dr. Charles Leonard, pastor of the Universalist Church of the Redeemer in Chelsea, Massachusetts, who held a special service for and dedicated to children. Leonard named the day Rose Day; later it was named Flower Sunday and eventually Children's Day. As a national holiday, Children's Day was first officially declared by the Republic of Turkey in 1920 with the set date of April 23.
On November 20, 1959, the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Since then, Universal Children's Day is observed annually on November 20 to promote the objectives for the welfare of children outlined in that Declaration and in the U.N. Charter, to encourage all countries to institute a day to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children and to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world's children. As such, Universal Children's Day is not just a day to celebrate children for who they are, but also to bring awareness to children around the globe that have experienced violence in forms of abuse, exploitation, and discrimination. E.g., in some countries children still continue to be used as laborers, or they are immersed in armed conflict and are suffering the effects of war (such as displacement and physical and psychological trauma), or they are living on the streets, suffering religious or ethnic discrimination, or are affliceted with disabilities.
Even before 1959, a Women's International Democratic Federation had established the International Day for Protection of Children as a holiday to be observed on June 1 (for the first time in 1950), and many countries continue to adhere to that date, rather than November 20. In the United Kingdom, where the holiday was first proclaimed in 1954, it is observed on the second Sunday of May; the United States continues to adhere to Pastor Leonard's chosen date, the second Sunday of June; and Turkey continues to celebrate the holiday on April 23. In Germany and Austria, the holiday is observed on September 20; in Australia, the fourth week of October is Children's Week, with the Wednesday of that week marked out as Children's Day. The countries that observe Children's Day on the date set by the U.N., November 20, include Canada, Egypt Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, the countries emerging from the former Yugoslavia, Spain, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, as well as several other African and several Arabic and Islamic countries.