Celebrating Universal Children’s Day: What? When? Why?


  1. What is the meaning of Universal Children's Day? 
  2. What day is Children's Day?
  3. Why is Universal Children's Day celebrated? 
  4. How is Universal Children’s Day celebrated?
  5. What can you do to help less fortunate children?

It seems only fair that we should celebrate our little bundles of joy. Especially when there are so many other obscure calendar days, like Just Do Nothing Day (16th January), Draw a Bird day 🐦(8th April) and our personal favourite, Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th). So what does Universal Children’s Day involve, when is it and why do we celebrate? Here’s everything you need to know about Universal Children's Day. 👇


What is the meaning of Universal Children's Day? 


Universal Children's Day is also known as World Children’s Day. It’s a day when children are celebrated all over the world.

Like many other international days, it is also an occasion which highlights issues of concern, seeks to address global problems, promotes togetherness, encourages political mobilisation and aims to improve the welfare of every child. It also teaches children to appreciate their own lives and have empathy towards those who are less privileged.


What day is Children's Day?


Universal children’s day is celebrated on 20th November each year. Some countries have their own children’s days on other dates. Here are just a few:





The 3rd Sunday in August

Día del Niño


Saturday before Universal Children’s Day to the following Sunday

Children’s Week


17th March

National Children’s Day or Biśba śiśu dibasa



1st June/20 September

Kindertag/Children’s Day


14th November (birthday of the first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharial Nehru who loved children)

Children’s Day or Bal Diwas


5th May

Children’s Day or Kodomo no hi


1st June

Children’s Day or Dzien Dziecka


1st October (a public holiday)

National Sovereignty and Children’s Day or Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayramı


Why is Universal Children's Day celebrated?


To understand this, you need to know about the history of this day.

Back in 1857, Rose Day was started by Dr Charles Leonard in the UK. Fast forward to 1920 when Children’s Day became a national holiday in Turkey. By 1950, numerous counties began celebrating 1st June as Children Protection Day.

Universal children’s day as it’s known today, was established by the United Nations in 1954 and 20th November was the date given to this. The UN General Assembly recommended that all countries come up with their own suitable date for focussing on children: promoting their rights, improving their welfare and encouraging togetherness.

Five years later, on 20th November 1959, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Later in 1989, this is the same day when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The main message of the UNCRC was that children aren’t objects that their parents own and make decisions for. Rather, they are human beings with their own rights. According to the Convention, childhood is different from adulthood and lasts until the age of 18. This time must be protected for children to be able to grow, develop, learn, flourish and play with dignity.  

Since 1990, the UN has marked the anniversaries of both the Declaration and the UNCRC.


How is Universal Children’s Day celebrated?


Today, the UN regards the day as, ‘A fun day with a serious message’. There is a different theme every year which focuses on a particular issue.

The fun day consists of:

  •       A range of events globally at governments, schools, charities and businesses
  •       Activities shared on social media using the hashtag #worldchildrensday
  •       Schools and buildings around the world being lit up in a blue light

In 2021, the serious message is:

In the UNCRC, there are 54 children’s rights. Here are some of them:

  •       The right to be alive (Art 6)
  •       The right to food, clothing, a safe place to live and have basic needs (Art 27)
  •       The right to have an education (Art 28)
  •       The right to play and rest (Art 31)
  •       The right to protection from work that harms them, is bad for their health and education (Art 32)

Many children in the world still do not have these basic rights and it’s important for everyone, including other children, to develop emotional awareness of this.

Here are some recent statistics: Child labour has increased for the first time in 20 years and stands at 160 million, 20% of 15-to-24-year-olds in the world feel depressed and 129 million girls globally are out of education. 


What can you do to help less fortunate children?


There are many things people can do on a local and international level. Here are a few:

  • Volunteer

Help out locally and give your time to help children in your local community. Find out about the problems children face on your own doorstep.

  • Sponsor a child

You can pay a small fixed amount every month to help organisations like UNICEF to improve the life of a child somewhere in the world.

  • Educate yourself

Don’t live in a bubble. Look at conditions for children around the world and find something you’re passionate about.

Childhood is meant to be fun and children are our future. Universal Children's Day is a good way to remind us of this. Get involved and celebrate by organising a fun activity to do with your children this year! 🎉