German World Children’s Day on September 20 is the official children’s day of Germany, one of two children’s days recognized in Germany every year. While all Germans agree that celebrating their youngest citizens is a grand idea, they don’t all agree when to do it. While two children’s days are recognized in Germany, both days are celebrated but not by everyone. And the official day, German World Children’s Day, is not celebrated unilaterally by German families.
When to celebrate its children is a source of contention deeply rooted in Germany’s history. To understand this divide requires a shallow dive into Germany’s not too distant past. It’s a dive worth making because it ultimately reminds us how important it is to overlook our political biases and come together for the sake of the planet’s most precious resource, our children.
History of German World Children's Day
The story of Germany’s two children’s days begins in 1954, after World War II when two independent and separate German states existed, East Germany and West Germany. The United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolved that year for all countries to celebrate a Universal Children’s Day promoting international togetherness and improving the welfare of children worldwide. Although the UN resolution designated November 20 as Universal Children’s Day, at the same time they also suggested that each individual country should select a meaningful date appropriate for their own people to celebrate as Universal Children’s Day. Consequently, some countries chose to celebrate their children on November 20, but many countries elected to celebrate Universal Children’s Day on other dates throughout the year.
West Germany chose to organize a Universal Children’s Day as “Weltkindertag,” or World Children’s Day, on September 20, 1954 in response to the UN’s Universal Children’s Day resolution. At the same time, East Germany chose not to recognize Universal Children’s Day at all, but instead continued to celebrate “Internationaler Kindertag,” or International Children’s Day on June 1, a holiday East Germans had been celebrating since about 1926, long before World War II. If you’re familiar with post-war German history, you probably see where these choices lead when unification takes place in 1990.
To confuse matters more, the UN changed the name of their November 20 Universal Children’s Day to World Children’s Day sometime along the timeline, although we’re not exactly sure when. So German Children’s Day is also known as Universal Children’s Day by former West German families. Confused? So are we, but here’s the good news. Although Germany today officially recognizes only one official children’s day, two children’s days still exist, and both are celebrated, so children win