June 1 is fast approaching and you know what that means: National Children’s Day! Well, not quite. An interesting fact is that despite all the other events you can see in the UK, from local London rowing club races through the River Thames, to pride parades, to costume festivals, and even turning a whole park into a Christmas event village, there is actually no officially recognised Children’s Day. That brings some implications about the UK as a whole, but are they strictly negative?
There are actually two globally recognised Children’s Days. One of them is on June 1 (The International Day for Protection of Children), and it was created by the Women’s International Democratic Federation in 1949. The other one is on November 20 and it’s called Universal Children’s Day – it is a global variant set by the United Nations, meaning that, technically, every country within the UN celebrates it. Different countries have their own version of this ‘celebration’ and how the day goes down or what the child gets. Some consider it an educational day, some consider it a day for honouring children just like you would honour parents on Father’s or Mother’s Day.
UK is, of course, the rebel of such celebrations. They still don’t recognise either of those dates and keep a stiff upper lip about the question. Does that really mean that they don’t honour their children in any way, shape or form?
Of course not. Every nation loves its kids. The United Kingdom simply has their own way of showing that. Despite it being the home of so many marvellous sitcoms and stand up comedians, many people still consider the UK as a dry nation, devoid of humour. Yet, as the former would suggest, they still have the kid inside, it’s just a manner of upbringing.
One theory of their lack of Children’s Day is that they consider the upbringing of said children being done as treating them as adults. Often times, truth is within the media, and, by example of literary anthropology, if you examine some books, and, as a film critic, examine British movies, you will learn a simple truth: UK’s children are children only by age. There is no British movie or book character that acts like a child.
Let’s consider some examples. Anyone read Charles Dickens will agree that his children characters are rarely kids. One of his titular characters, Oliver Twist, has to grow up and learn irony and about the harsh world at a very young age. Then we have more contemporary authors. In Terry Pratchett’s art the roles are completely reversed – the children are often smarter and more mature than the adults and, for example in Hogfather, they reach an age of cynicism before they age at all, becoming 40 years of a cynic’s age before they are 10. This is consistent with a popular joke among some Brits that UK children are born 30 years old and get more childish with time. We also have Nick Hornby’s character Marcus from About A Boy, who has long since stopped being a kid and trying to figure out life for himself.
It’s not that the UK don’t celebrate their children – it’s just that they don’t need to. The citizens of the United Kingdom give everything else – they provide good health care, great education in terms of national schools and universities, and an excellent environment for the child’s growth. You cannot take that away from them. British children are blessed and celebrated as much as any other country’s – the only difference being, they don’t need a special day to tell them their children are precious.