American Family Day on the first Sunday in August, on August 4 this year, is a time for, you guessed it, family. More specifically, this day celebrates the bonds that laid the foundation for our lives, be it blood or otherwise. Unlike other holidays, however, this day discourages gift-giving, unless your present is the gift of time. The makers of this day intended for it to be all about the relationships built in a family, and cherishing them in person.
History of American Family Day
Historically, many cultures have been patriarchal. While this practice continued in Roman times, women were given slightly more freedom than before, although they were still not free to manage their own affairs.
By the time we reached the Middle Ages, two distinct family patterns began to emerge in Europe. In the southern and eastern parts of Europe, marriage between an older male and a younger female was common. Both would typically live with their parents for a long time, and their combined household would contain several generations of people. In Northwestern Europe, couples were usually of the same age and would wait until their early 20s to marry. They would then set up their independent household as a precursor to the nuclear family.
The Industrial Revolution brought about a change in family units, although some historians believe that this change had already begun before this period. The previous joint- or extended family broke up because people, mainly the unmarried youth, left their homes to work at industrial facilities. The male-female dynamic in the home also changed. Equality between the sexes gained more ground, and gender roles began to blur. The concept of the family today is both a physical and a mental structure and consists of familial and emotional bonds.
This day has its beginnings in a one-year proclamation, which was signed by then-Governor of Arizona Raúl Héctor Castro. This proclamation declared August 7 as American Family Day. Many sources credit Arizona resident John Makkai as the force behind this legislation, although not much more is known about how this happened. The year after the proclamation, the new Governor Bruce Babbitt signed this day into law as an official Arizona holiday. This makes American Family Day the 14th state-recognized holiday in Arizona. Burgeoning interest spread this holiday to North Carolina, then Georgia, and, now, all of America celebrates this day each year.
American Family Day timeline
Virginia is the first state in the New World that mandates residents to record christenings, marriages, and burials.
Apart from an unprecedented rise in population, this period also sees a change in the family structure — nuclear families are more common, gender roles slowly change, and gender equality gradually emerges.
French medievalist and historian, Philippe Ariès, publishes a book, “Centuries of Childhood” — it is very influential in reviving family history studies.
Governor Raúl Héctor Castro signs a one-year proclamation to celebrate American Family Day.
The next Arizona Governor, Bruce Babbitt, makes this a state holiday.
American Family Day FAQs
Is it Family Day in the U.S.A.?
America celebrates American Family Day on the first Sunday in August.
Why do we celebrate Family Day in school?
Family Day highlights the importance of the family system to children.
Is Family Day a paid holiday?
Similar to other celebrations like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, American Family Day is a non-paid holiday for most people across the U.S.
How To Celebrate American Family Day
Spend time with family
While you don't need a special day (or reason) to celebrate the bonds of family, this day makes them all the more special. Gather those who are family not only in blood but in spirit, too, and spend some quality time with them. Go on a little picnic, take a walk in the park, or plan a family vacation.
Learning is always rewarding, and there is nothing better than doing this activity with the ones you love. Take an art class with siblings, understand the ins and outs of gardening with your parents, and learn a new recipe with your kids. Gain some knowledge together.
Record your family's heritage
Everyone's family has special stories and tales, secret family recipes, and even a funny secret or two. Your children and their children would love to know where they came from and the people who shaped their values and traditions. Learn how your family came to be, record relationships for a family tree, and include lots of photographs.
5 Fun Facts About Animal Families
Girl bonding, the elephant way
Female African elephants and their calves stay together their whole lives and look after each other's babies.
Orangutan moms, of all the other mammals except us, share the most loving relationship with their babies — they are each other's closest companions for the first eight years of the baby's life.
Many penguins stay loyal to each other during mating season and even for most of their lives — both parents share responsibility for raising their chick.
Many primates — marmosets, tamarins, pygmy loris — regularly give birth to twin babies.
Dolphins and social bonds
This species is regularly in the news for helping their own species and humans — a BBC story showed five dolphins creating a raft with their bodies to hold an injured dolphin above water.
Why We Love American Family Day
It builds bonds
In this fast-paced world, we appreciate a reminder to connect with the ones we love most. This connection forms the foundation for all our relationships — our youngest members grow in love, our oldest thrive in this attention, and we realize our self-worth.
It reminds us of the importance of family
Not only is the concept of 'family' important to society as a whole, but it also shaped each one of us into the person we are today. Each experience and memory with family is special and nurtures us well into adulthood.
It affirms that we are not alone
We are all tied by invisible — and often unbreakable — strings. The traditions and values of family remind us that we are all part of a bigger whole. American Family Day is a wonderful reminder that we each have a special place in our family.
American Family Day dates