In Mexico, April 30 is Children's Day: el Dia del Niño
Mother's Day and Father's Day are widely celebrated throughout the world. But Mexico is such an inclusive culture. Children's Day is always filled with activities, and children look forward to a holiday all their own with fun, gifts and special events.
Many schools celebrate the day before and parents are invited. Of course, there are usually no classes on Children's Day itself, April 30, even though it is not an official holiday in the school calendar.
On Children's Day, the main focus is on the children and making them feel special. In shopping malls all over Mexico, special events with clowns, magicians, music, shows and balloons take place. Amusement parks as well as zoos and children's museums usually offer discounts or special deals for children on this day. Water parks are a popular option for spending the day, taking advantage of April's warm weather. Lines for the water slides can be quite long, but the reward of a refreshing splash in a swimming pool waiting at the end are truly worth the wait.
Large movements are organized by different civil associations that collect toy donations from citizens. On Children's Day, they give them out to orphans and needy children as a way of literally "making their day." Toys related to war or that require batteries to operate are generally not accepted.
It is a festivity that is quite unique, full of laughter and play, when adults are reminded of the importance of childhood and children teach us how joyful and simple life can be.
Nowadays, the gifts children of the middle and upper classes ask for are very different than when I was a child though. I would ask for sport equipment, helicopters, and simple toys that were fun and involved playing outdoors. Today, children seem to be more inclined for Blackberries, iPods and video games, as technology has become an important part of contemporary lifestyles.
If you want to be a part of this celebration, why not buy individual packets of cookies to carry in your handbag or glovebox and give out to street kids in Mexico? Dollar store toys can also be affordable gifts.
Family is supremely important in Mexico, with Grandparent's Day on August 28th, Family Day on the first Sunday in March, and even a day for brothers and sisters. Of course, people come first, and there are also days dedicated to professions, like the Day of the Doctor, Day of the Teacher and Day of the Secretary, among others.
But that's another story.