What is Family Day?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Family Day or Family and Community Day is a holiday celebrated by several countries and in three Canadian Provinces. Workers are given the day off, and government owned businesses close. Other businesses that are privately owned may stay open depending upon the area in which the day is celebrated. Currently, South Africa, Australian Capital Territory, and the Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan provinces in Canada celebrate Family Day.

Family Day is celebrated in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan.
Family Day is celebrated in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

In Australia, Family Day is officially titled Family and Community Day. It has to be re-declared each year and is celebrated on the first Tuesday of November. In some ways it is similar to Labor Day in the US, celebrated in September. It acknowledges the hard work of the Australian people and that this work deserves an opportunity for family and friends to gather and take a break from such work.

Family Day gives families time together away from work.
Family Day gives families time together away from work.

In South Africa, it was typical to take the day after Easter off, so named Easter Monday. In 1995, this holiday was renamed Family Day. It gives family time to get back from vacations or visiting with friends, or just an extra day to celebrate a holiday.

Canadian Family Day has different celebration standards in each province. Ontario does not make this day a statutory holiday, and the day was not established until 2007. In 2007 the Saskatchewan Province also declared a Family Day. The earliest establishment of this holiday occurred in Alberta Territory where the day was declared in 1995, and is a statutory holiday. To mitigate the fact that this might cost businesses more money, Canadian Heritage Day has become a civic holiday, so that not all workers are exempt from working on this day.

The origin of the holiday in Alberta has a significant backstory. Premier Don Getty was in the mid 1990s facing significant scandal because his son had been arrested for possession and use of cocaine. Since publicity could not be avoided, Getty publicly expressed his regret and blamed himself for not spending as much time with his family as he should have. In response, the Lieutenant Governor, Helen Huntley, instituted Family Day. In Canada, all three provinces celebrate the day on the third Monday in February.

Another Canadian holiday that coincides with Family Day is celebrated in Manitoba province. It was approved in 2007 and is called Louis Riel Day. The day honors Riel, a controversial Canadian politician who was an early leader of the province.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

I agree Heavanet. Family is so important, yet many of us are far too busy to take time to spend together. A family day would set aside a day specifically for this, and give people a little time to reconnect and enjoy each other.
I wish the United States would start having a national family day. After all, family is the most important part of everyone's life. I don't feel that family is celebrated enough.
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