National Respect Day – September 18, 2021

‘RESPECT’ — these seven letters spell out something we all aspire to get and are taught to give out; see how National Respect Day encourages us to be more respectful to everyone and help others do the same on September 18 each year. This year our event coincides with other special days like National Cheeseburger Day, World Bamboo Day, and even International Red Panda Day.

History of National Respect Day

A dictionary definition calls ‘respect’ as the feeling of admiration for someone or something, elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. We certainly were taught respect right from childhood. We were told to respect our parents, elders, teachers, school rules, traffic rules, our country, and the list went on. As adults, we have come to see why this respect matters, and we might even school those who don’t show any such feelings towards others. Another form of respect we have gradually learned about is respecting ourselves. We learn about it, develop it, and struggle to maintain it in the face of challenge.

The significance of respect and self-respect is why most ancient and modern philosophers — particularly moral and political philosophers — are so drawn to these concepts. Respect and self-respect — as concepts — have shown up in discussions about justice and equality, cultural diversity and toleration, punishment, and political violence. The theory of respect is central to many ethical debates as well, with some believing it is the very essence of morality and others basing it as the foundation of other moral philosophies.

Much of this focus stems from the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, the first such Western philosopher who put respect for persons as the center of moral theory. He insisted that persons are ends in themselves, with an absolute dignity that must always be respected. This has become a core thought of modern humanism and political liberalism. Even today, most modern discussions about respect cite, depend on, or challenge Kant’s theories.
We are still confirming the origins of this holiday.

National Respect Day timeline

1670s
What a Polite Phrase

The phrase that introduced deferential disagreement — 'with all due respect' — originates in this period.

18th Century
Immanuel Kant Highlights Respect

He is the first prominent Western philosopher who puts respect and self-respect at the center of moral theory; his theories still influence modern discussions and debates on the subject.

1948
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Embraced by the United Nations General Assembly, this declaration intends to give status deserving of respect to all individuals all over the world.

1967
A Song for Respect

Artist Aretha Franklin releases her hit single, Respect — a reimagining of Otis Redding's original piece — and it becomes an anthem for the civil rights movement in the U.S.

National Respect Day FAQs

What day is celebrated on September 18?

National Respect Day, World Bamboo Day, and National Cheeseburger Day are celebrated on September 18 each year.

Is Friday, September 18 a holiday?

This day is not a public holiday, but there are many events celebrated on this day across the U.S. and the globe.

What does respect really mean?

Respect refers to being accepting towards a person different from you in thoughts, skin color, race, nationality. Respect is learned and does not have to come naturally.

How do we show respect?

We can show respect in multiple ways; by listening to what the other person says, by being kind, being thankful, using polite language, and affirming their importance.

How To Celebrate National Respect Day

  1. Be more respectful

    Boost your efforts to be caring and polite to others. You can go all out on this day by treating your partner to a special meal, taking time out to visit your loved ones, and simply acknowledging the work others put in to make your life better.

  2. Listen to Aretha Franklin's hit song

    'Respect' topped the charts in the 1960s and was the feminist anthem for the next decade. You even have various options to try out; this song has been covered many times since then by singers like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Kelly Clarkson.

  3. Teach the next generation about respect

    You can have honest conversations with young children and teens about giving and receiving respect. You can take the educational movie route, or simply talk to kids. You could also participate in awareness activities for causes like domestic violence, sexual assault, cyberbullying, and others that impact people's respect and dignity.

5 Hand Gestures And What They Mean

  1. The two-handed handshake

    In the Middle East, people use both hands for a handshake; the right hand grasps the other person's hand, and the left grasps their forearm near the elbow.

  2. The left hand is a no-no

    In North and sub-Saharan African nations, as well as in the Middle East, handing people objects with the left hand is considered unclean.

  3. Touching people's feet

    Asian culture dictates the older generation must be greeted before the younger, and in India, people also touch the feet of older people as a show of respect.

  4. Watch out for the 'rock-on' sign

    The universal rock-on sign — horn fingers — is used to tell someone their spouse is cheating in many Mediterranean and Latin countries like Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Spain, Italy, and Portugal.

  5. Watch those thumbs

    If you thought the 'thumbs-up' sign was safe, think again; it is used as an insult in Bangladesh and is considered offensive in certain parts of the Middle East.

Why We Love National Respect Day

  1. Think about our treatment of others

    This day pushes everyone to reflect deeper about how we treat the people in our lives and make changes wherever necessary.

  2. Respect is a crucial philosophy to develop

    Respect for others and ourselves are the cornerstones to developing healthy relationships. National Respect Day reminds us that we need to inculcate this philosophy not just once a year but every single day.

  3. We need a reminder

    The world is full of challenging situations. That's why it is especially important to take time to reflect on the things and people that are especially admirable to us.

National Respect Day dates

YearDateDay
2021September 18Saturday
2022September 18Sunday
2023September 18Monday
2024September 18Wednesday
2025September 18Thursday

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