National Family Day, celebrated on September 26, puts the spotlight on the people that make our lives meaningful. Families come in many forms and sizes and under different circumstances, but what they all share is unconditional love and support for those growing on the same family tree. From nuclear family units to extended clans, families can drive us crazy and make life worth living. Take some time today to appreciate the special folks in your life — give them a call, take them out to lunch, or send them a note to let them know you’re thinking of them!
History of National Family Day
The family unit is an indispensable part of human society. At its core, the family is composed of biological relatives like parents, siblings, grandparents, and cousins, as well as spouses, children, and in-laws. The social relationships, expectations, and dynamics between these relatives vary by time and place. Today, Americans are getting married later than ever, at around 28.
The nuclear family unit — parents and children — typically makes up most Western households. In other cultures, extended families share households, and adult children are expected to care for their elderly parents and relatives.
Throughout history, the definition of family has evolved to include nontraditional families, extended clans, and even tightly-knit friend groups. For those without close ties to their blood relatives, “chosen family” provides much-needed love and support.
The scientific study of the family unit began in the late 19th century and crystallized as a subfield of sociology in the 1960s. Since then, social scientists have paid special attention to the family’s role in shaping individual behavior and how place and culture affect family structures. Industrialization, globalization, and the development of cheap and fast international transportation have led to rapid changes in relations between families.
According to psychologists, family ties are critical for healthy development. Research shows that the quality of familial relationships has significant effects on well-being. Strong family ties support us under stress, help us process trauma, and boost our self-esteem.
Because family is such an important structure for people around the world, it certainly makes sense to devote a day to appreciating and engaging with the important people in our lives.
National Family Day timeline
Choose Your Family
Popular television show, Friends, premiers on NBC, acknowledging a different form of family.
Beloved animated sitcom The Simpsons debuts on the Tracey Ullman Show.
The Brady Bunch becomes the first popular TV program to show a married couple sharing a bed.
Interracial marriage becomes fully legal in the United States.
National Family Day FAQs
How can I find inexpensive ways to spend time with my family?
Check out your local museums, parks, and other cultural institutions. They often have free or low-cost programming and events for kids and families. In many cities, your local library card will get you free or discounted access to museums, zoos, and theme parks.
What are the best ways to reconnect with distant family?
If hanging out with your relatives in person isn’t an option, try a free video messaging app, or send a hand-written note! This old-fashioned method will definitely bring a smile to their face and show them you care.
How can I find out more about my family?
Genealogy research is a fun and interesting way to learn more about your relatives and ancestry. In addition to searching historical records, you can now get in-depth information about your genetics and family tree by submitting your DNA to a commercial genetic testing company.
National Family Day Activities
Plan an outing
Whether it’s a day at the beach, a picnic, or a movie, an outing with your family is a surefire way to enjoy some quality time. Pick an accessible activity everyone can enjoy and share a day of reconnecting.
Pick up your phone
Not to worry if you and your family are not in the same state or country — modern technology makes it easy to connect! Call each other or use a video chatting app to check in with distant relatives.
Plan a game day
Games are a super fun way to bond with family. Whether your family is into board games, puzzles, card games, or sports, a little healthy competition will energize your family time. Plus, the winner has bragging rights — until the next game day.
5 Fascinating Facts About Family
I Love Lucy almost didn’t happen
Network executives hesitated to cast Lucille Ball’s real-life husband Desi Arnaz but, at Ball’s insistence, Lucy and Ricky became the first interracial couple on television and spawned an American classic.
The high-tech Addams Family
Believe it or not, the first PC on television appeared on The Addams Family in the 1960s.
Stone age suburbia
Inspired by The Honeymooners’ cheeky family dynamics, The Flintstones debuted in 1960 as the first animated show on prime time.
“You rang?” was an ad-lib
Lurch the butler was written as mute in the original The Addams Family sitcom, but Ted Cassidy’s ad-libbed “You rang?” became an iconic line.
The Simpsons drew from real life
The characters on The Simpsons are inspired by and named after Matt Groening’s own family members.
Why We Love National Family Day
It reminds us to reconnect
Family is always there for us. Too often, we take them for granted. National Family Day reminds us to check in and express gratitude to our relatives who we may not always reach out to.
It gives us a chance to appreciate our friends
Not all families are related by blood. National Family Day reminds us to be thankful to the friends who choose to be in our lives.
It’s good for our health
Good family relationships do wonders for our mental and physical health. Maintaining and nurturing close relationships can contribute to a happier, healthier, longer life.