“1 de Junho, dia da criança, cantamos com alegria é dia da criança…1 de Junho, dia da criança, cantamos com alegria é dia da criança!”
Happy Children’s Day! Well, technically it was yesterday, but I wrote this yesterday and posting it late is better than never, right? That’s what I’m telling myself.
June 1st marks National Children’s Day in Mozambique and many other African countries, as well as Portugal and several European countries. In the US, Children’s Day is technically the first Sunday in June (although I’m fairly certain I never got a parade or cake on this day, so I don’t buy it and I think we’re doing something wrong).
The day was designated during the 1925 Geneva Conference as part of the Declaration of the Rights of the child. The document includes 10 rights that should be guaranteed to every child:
- The right to equality without distinction of race, national origin or religion
- The right to protections for the child’s social, mental and physical development
- The right to a name and nationality
- The right to adequate medical care, nutrition and housing
- The right to special education and treatment for differently-abled children
- The right to understanding and love from both society and parents
- The right to recreational activities and free education
- The right to be among the first to receive relief in extraneous circumstances
- The right to protection against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation
- The right to be brought up with understanding, friendship, and tolerance among a universal spirit of brotherhood
Quite the list. In Mozambique this day is celebrated just about everywhere: at home, in school, on the streets. Many children don’t have classes on June 1st, while others will gather at school and spend the day playing games, sharing food, singing the song above, and forming small parades through the streets with hand-painted signs. It’s also customary to give a small gift to children, younger siblings or family members on this day—people will celebrate with anything from a piece of candy to an entire cake.
So, in conclusion for a brief post that quickly turned into a lengthy one, this write-up is dedicated to my 4 stellar host siblings (who will probably never see this, but deserve it none-the-less). They work hard every day going to school, cooking meals, carrying water and doing housework. They may be younger than me, but I will always look up to them.