When and Why Is International Day of Families Celebrated?

The International Day of Families is celebrates the importance of families.
The International Day of Families is celebrates the importance of families.

The International Day of Families is held on May 15 to celebrate the importance of families and the work started during the International Year of Families. It is an international observance declared by the United Nations General Assembly with the aim of celebrating the role of families in society. Policy makers and stakeholders also promote awareness of issues affecting families all over the world and seek public participation to resolve those issues. Since 1996, the United Nations Secretary General, in conjunction with designated agencies, selects the theme to celebrate on this day, with a key focus on the role of the family in socioeconomic issues.

History of the International Day of Families

In past decades, the family structure has changed drastically due to evolving global demographic trends. Even with the changing family structure, the United Nations (UN) still recognizes the family as the basic unit of society. During the 1980s, the UN increased its concern about issues affecting families in society. With recommendations from the Economic and Social Council and the Commission for Social Development, the UN developed resolution 1983/23 regarding the family’s role in economic growth and development, and urged the UN Secretary General to draw the attention of public policy makers to the developmental hindrances rooted in the family setting.

On September 20, 1993, the UN General Assembly, through resolution A/RES/47/237, affirmed prior resolutions that had been passed to show their commitment in promoting social progress and better living standards for families across the globe. The General Assembly adopted May 15 as the International Day for Families, with the intention of increasing the understanding of the economic, social, and demographic issues affecting families. The aim of the day was to reflect on the significance that the international community accords to the family as the basic unit of society, as well voicing concerns regarding the current state of affairs of the family unit around the world.


The International Day of Families is represented by the symbol of a heart that stretches upwards and forms the roof of a house. The heart is then engraved in a green circle to signify that the family is the center of society and provides a stable abode to support people of all ages. Over the years, the holiday has inspired different countries to create their own symbols for family day and support community-based awareness events that draw attention to issues concerning families in modern times.

Celebration Events

The International Day of Families is observed globally amongst all world cultures. Most communities honor the day through public exhibitions and discussions to deliberate on ideas that are relevant to the specific theme of that year. In some countries, toolkits are created to help communities organize celebrations targeting different sections of the population such as teenagers, youths, and young adults. During these celebrations, public officials hold seminars and forums to discuss the policies that affect the family. The day also provides a great opportunity for people to spend time in either their nuclear or extended families.


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