If you are a kid in Germany, June 1st is a magical day. Not only because you get to spend the day with your family attending special events in your neighborhoods and cities, or maybe taking a day trip to the beach, or forcing your parents to play board games for hours on end, but because you will also receive a gift. A small little gift that lets you know that someone has been thinking of you and that you are special.
Children’s Day or Kindertag has long been celebrated in Germany. Although the day can look very different depending on if you grew up in East or West Germany. International Children’s Day or Kindertag has always been celebrated in East Germany (German Democratic Republic) on June 1st. The holiday was first introduced in 1950 and was then held on a yearly basis. On this day, children would typically be congratulated and receive a small gift from their parents and even attend special events in their own neighborhoods like carnivals or even engage in special activities in school, like field trips to the zoo.
To this day I still remember getting up in the morning and finding a special present on the dining room table. The toy you had been eyeballing at the local store for weeks, or that new sweater you just couldn’t live without or in my case the new Backstreet Boys CD that was all the rage.
In West Germany, the day which called Universal Children’s Day or Weltkindertag, is celebrated on September 20th. But rather than shower the children with a gift, it is more geared towards public events. After the unification of East and West Germany in 1990, Universal Children’s Day has become the official day for Germany. However to this day most parents who grew up in East Germany still celebrate Children’s Day on the former date of June 1st while public events and activities are scheduled and celebrated on Weltkindertag on September 20th.
So, in a sense you could say there are two children’s day’s celebrated each year in Germany.