National Cousins Day falls on the calendar every July 24 and is the perfect day to send some love to those family members we call cousins. Whether they were our first best friend or first antagonist, cousins are the people who made family get togethers fun – or at least more tolerable and less awkward – when we were kids. Whether close cousins or distant cousins, friends or foes, those of us who are lucky enough to still have cousins around should think about celebrating them today.
History of National Cousins Day
Exactly when National Cousins Day made its way onto our modern-day calendar is a mystery. What we do know is that cousins have been keeping families connected for a long time.
American families have been coming together for reunions since the first settlers left the safety of the colonies and headed west to find fame, fortune, and more importantly, land. As one generation passed the baton of keeping extended family connected onto the next generation, cousins became the guardians of family ties.
Even in families who no longer gather for regular reunions, cousins tend to reach out to each other later in life and revisit the shared memories of being family. If your cousins are like brothers and sisters or you became best friends growing up, staying in touch with them may not require a special day on your calendar. If you’re from a small family or one where the wanderlust gene is dominant and you’re not quite sure where all your cousins wandered off to years ago, celebrating cousinship takes a little more effort. It may take circling National Cousins Day on your calendar every year as an excuse to say hello to the cousins of your youth.
However, revisiting a family member you haven’t seen since you both were forced to sit at the kids’ table is always an interesting and nostalgic reunion. You get to see where your lives took you, the families you’ve created, the careers you’ve gone after, and the faces you’ve aged.
National Cousins Day timeline
Tom Hanks, who played Mister Rogers in the 2019 film, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” learned that he and Mister Rogers are 6th cousins.
Indie Band, Vampire Weekend, released their popular single called “Cousins.”
Will Smith’s “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” debuted on NBC, about a young man who moves in with his aunt, uncle, and cousins.
Louisa May Alcott published her novel titled “Eight Cousins.”
National Cousins Day FAQs
Who is a cousin?
Cousins are two people who are both separated by two or more generations from their most recent common ancestor, which is typically a grandparent.
Who is called a First Cousin?
“First cousins” are the children of your aunt or uncle. (Aunts and uncles are the sisters or brothers of your mother or father.) Your closest common ancestor with a first cousin is one of your grandparents.
Can I date my first cousin?
There are no laws against dating a first cousin, but marriage between first cousins is discouraged and illegal in most states.
National Cousins Day Activities
Binge-watch cousin-themed reruns
Today is a good day to get reacquainted with those quirky cousin relationships we enjoyed on TV and big screen when we were kids. Remember summer reruns? Most vintage movies and many TV sitcoms have been digitized and are available on-demand. Some of our cousin-themed favorites: Parent Trap, c. 1961 starring Hayley Mills, My Cousin Vinny, c. 1992, starring Joe Pesci, Ralph Macchio, Marisa Tomei, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, c. 1990-1996, starring Will Smith
Host a digital National Cousins Day reunion
If your cousins live on the opposite coast or the other side of the planet, go digital. Schedule a live reunion hosted on one of the communication tools on social media platforms or use a webinar provider.
Send your DNA off to be tested
If you are the least bit curious about who your real blood relatives are (and are not) today is the day to stick that cotton swab in your cheek and find out. DNA testing will help you identify cousins you never even knew you had. It may be intimidating to think about learning who your long-lost relatives really are, but, hey! Connecting with your cousins is what National Cousins Day is all about.
Five Curious Facts About Cousin Relationships
Six degrees of separation
A study by AncestryDNA revealed that the average Brit has more than 193,000 living cousins (6th cousin or closer) We’re not sure if the average American has this many living cousins, but it makes us wonder how many of us have unwittingly dated one of our cousins.
All in the family
Talent often runs in families, and that is true of celebrities. Some talented celebrity cousins we’ve admired over the years: Singers Whitney Houston and Dionne Warwick are first cousins, Singer Snoop Dogg is the first cousin of singer Brandy, actress Sissy Spacek and actor Rip Torn are first cousins, and here’s an odd pair: actress Lauren Bacall and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres are first cousins
Maybe not all in the family
It is legal to marry your second cousin in all fifty states …but not your first cousin in most states.
Apparently double cousins are a thing! If two brothers marry two sisters, their children are considered double first cousins.
Your second cousin is someone who shares the same great-grandparent as you but not the same grandparent.
Why We Love National Cousins Day
Reconnect and make up
Today gives us a reason to make amends with estranged family, beginning with our cousins. Sometimes all it takes to patch things up is to just reach out and say hello. National Cousins Day is an excuse to call, email, or track down those long-lost cousins on social media. Regardless of outcome, making the effort is what counts.
Built-in best friends
Our cousins were some of our very first best friends. We’d see them during family get togethers, share gossip, and sneak extra snacks while our parents’ backs were turned.
There is truth behind the age-old maxim: It is more blessed to give than to receive. Telling our favorite cousins how much we appreciate them and how special they are sends out positive vibes that boomerang right back to us. Everyone likes to feel special.
National Cousins Day dates
National Cousins Day Featured Video
Celebrate National Cousins Day!