Explainer: Everything You Need to Know About Children’s Day in China

The Explainer is where we explain an aspect of Chinese life. Simple. So now you know.

Children’s Day is true to its name as it is a day to celebrate the children in your life. While Universal Children’s Day takes place November 20, China and several other countries observe National Children’s Day each year on June 1.

The Origin of Children’s Day

Children's Day
Kids celebrate Universal Children’s Day with a UNICEF ambassador in Japan on November 20, 2009. Image via China Gate

Children’s Day was first started by Reverend Dr. Charles Leonard, a pastor of a church in the US, in June 1856. Dr. Leonard had initially named the day ‘Rose Day,’ though it later became known as ‘Flower Sunday’ and, eventually, ‘Children’s Day.’

Since 1950, many countries have recognized June 1 as The International Day for Protection of Children. However, November 20 was set as ‘Universal Children’s Day’ after the United Nations officially established it in 1954. 

Since then, key children’s welfare initiatives have debuted during Universal Children’s Day. On November 20, 1959, the UN adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and on that same day in 1989, it launched the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children’s Day in China was first recognized in 1949 after the State Council dedicated a half-day off for all primary schools across the country in June. The holiday has been extended to a full day since 1956.

The holiday is officially called ‘June 1 International Children’s Day’ (六一国际儿童节) in Chinese.

National Children’s Day in China Today

June 1 is Children's Day in China
Image via Catalyst Review 

In China, public attractions often offer discounts on food, movie tickets and general admissions on this date. In some schools, special performances are dedicated to the students on June 1. Entrance to certain tourist attractions may be discounted or completely free of charge for children on this day.

While there are no strict traditions in China associated with Children’s Day, it is regarded as a day to appreciate the children in your life. Affection is usually expressed by spending the day with them or cooking their favorite meal.

In the lead-up to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), children will be encouraged to learn about the “spirit of the pioneers” and other ‘red’ elements related to Party history. Global Times reported that a military sports meet was held in Taizhou, Jiangsu province to mark Children’s Day, among many other history-themed events across the country.

A film about late premier Zhou Enlai’s childhood will also debut on June 1 in Nanjing. Art Director Xu Geng hopes that children will appreciate Zhou’s life through his childhood stories, as cited by GT.

[Cover image via QQ]

Additional reporting from Ryan Gandolfo.

This article was originally published on June 1, 2017. It has been updated and republished on May 31, 2021.


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