Ideas and Activities for Celebrating International Peace Day
What Is the International Day of Peace?
Every September 21st, the United Nations calls all people and nations to celebrate a day of cease-fire and embrace the concept of peaceful resolutions locally and globally.
The making of the International Day of Peace has an interesting story. We have Jeremy Gilley to thank for it. He is from England and fought hard to make the Day of Peace fall on September 21st every year.
Before 2002, the United Nations sponsored a day in honor of peace, but it never requested that people stopped fighting, and it didn't have a specific date. On September 7th, 2001, after many letters and meetings with different world leaders on Gilley's part, the United Nations agreed to create the International Day of Peace on September 21st. It was a day that asked the people of all nations to agree to ceasefire and nonviolence.
Right after the UN voted to enact this day, 9/11 happened. In the midst of all the turmoil, Gilley pressed on. It seemed like the world needed to acknowledge peace more than ever before.
Ways to Celebrate Peace at Home
You can do many things to commemorate the International Day of Peace on September 21st. The suggestions with asterisks (**) are kid-friendly.
- Stand in a moment of silence at 12 noon.**
- Light a candle in honor of peace.
- Read and write peace poems.**
- Watch the "Peace" video.**
- Sing songs about peace.**
- Read about different peacemakers.**
- Make peace resolutions in your own life and write them down so you can be reminded of them. For example, you can aim to work on your temper or try to curb road rage or smile more often.**
- Plant a peace garden.**
- Give someone a peace lily.**
- Reach out to someone who has angered or upset you, or someone you don't like very much. Either send them peaceful thoughts or actually make amends with them.**
- Read and post peace quotes on social networking sites.
- Watch a movie about a peacemaker.
- Check out the Mosaic Children's Project.** Listen to their songs of peace and donate!
- Resolve to create a more peaceful life with yourself and evaluate your relationships. Ask yourself: are there people around you who cause you stress or make you angry? Can you look at these relationships and see if they can change for the better? Can you sit down with him or her and resolve to bring more peace to your lives?
- Print out some peace quotes and post them around to help you never forget to keep the peace—always.**
- Write to lawmakers to adopt more peaceful approaches to domestic issues and international relations.**
- Organize a Peace March.
- Learn a fact or two about other countries and cultures to help foster a better understanding of our world community.
Ways to Celebrate Peace at School or Work
In addition to looking at ways to celebrate at home, you can bring peace to the place you work or attend school.
- Read stories about peace to a gathering of coworkers or students.
- Make peace flags to distribute.
- Make peace windmills and "plant" them in a garden.
- Get involved and spread a message of peace all year long.
- Make a peace chain at your school or community.
- Encourage your school to adopt an anti-bullying campaign and/or a Peace Curriculum.
- Make posters of Quotes on Peace and post them around the building.
- Find out the heritage of co-workers and classmates and have them share something interesting about their country/heritage of origin. Only do this if they want to, though.
- Organize a Peace Parade.
The Symbol of Peace
Many have wondered where the symbol of peace originated. Gerald Holtom, an English artist, created the symbol in 1958. He used it as a symbol of protest decrying nuclear weapons. He chose the naval semaphore symbol for the letter "N" and the letter "D" and put them together in one symbol. The "N" and the "D" stood for nuclear disarmament. Putting these two signs in a circle was also significant because a circle is "complete." Thus, it meant complete nuclear disarmament.
Arms Going Down or Arms Going Up?
Unfortunately, occult groups also began to use this symbol, marring its original intent. Holtom, regretting that he had not originally used the symbol with the arms going up, began to use his symbol right-side-up, echoing the letter "U" for universal. He requested that the peace sign with the arms going up be put on his tombstone. Unfortunately, this wish was not honored, and the stone bears his original peace sign as he drew it.
Currently, peace foundations are trying to convey that the symbol with the arms going up is the one to use, so that it doesn't draw up negative historical connotations and communicates a message solely of love.
Imagine . . . Some Peace
Poem on Peace
I am human
Part of a world community.
I choose some peace
To unite our posterity.
I am human—
I am perfectly imperfect.
No one's better—
Peace and unity, we connect.
A World of interdependence
Hopeful, united in our difference.
A Powerful Song
Playing for Change
Have you ever noticed how music, song and dance really bring people together? Around the world, people congregate in droves to attend concerts and peaceful gatherings.
The motto of Playing for Change is "Connecting the World Through Music." Once you have seen the video they made entitled "Stand By Me" (shown above), I have a feeling that you'll walk with a little more pep and smile a little more during the course of your day. It is heartfelt and citizens around the world collaborated to make this moving video.
The whole movement started with the Playing for Change founders heard someone singing "Stand By Me" (Roger Ridley) a block away. They went to investigate . . . and now the whole world is involved, playing for peace and understanding through music.
We Are Human; We Can Make a Difference
Thoughts on Peace
Do You Think That a Day of Cease-fire Could Ever Become Permanent?
© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun