Grandparents Day


Grandparents Day, celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day, did not begin as a way to sell greeting cards as many of us might suspect. It was through the efforts of a very dedicated woman, Marian McQuade, that on August 3, 1978, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed Grandparents Day a national holiday.

~ How it Began ~

Marian McQuade started her campaign for Grandparents Day in the early 1970s. Her idea was that the holiday should be a time for families to visit with older family members living in nursing homes. Her idea quickly grew to encompass much more. As she worked with politicians and others, she emphasized the wisdom and family history that grandparents can offer their grandchildren and other family members.

McQuade’s interest in connecting generations began when she was a young girl visiting her grandmother on her farm. After chores were done at the end of the day, they would visit elderly neighbors, often taking along food and gifts. McQuade’s interactions during these times, along with the close relationship with her grandmother, planted the seeds for a lifetime of advocating for the elderly.

~ A National Holiday ~

As an adult, McQuade worked tirelessly to provide support for elderly shut-ins. Through her efforts, McQuade was eventually appointed to the West Virginia Committee on Aging, the Nursing Home Licensing Board, and, finally, to the White House Conference on Aging where she had an even greater impact. It was there her hard work paid off and Grandparents Day became a National Holiday.

Grandparents Day by Family Tree Video

The month of September was chosen for Grandparents Day as a symbol of the “autumn years” of life. It also coincides with the start of school, giving children the perfect opportunity to interview their grandparents for school reports. Many teachers have found that grandparents can serve as valuable references for historical events, bringing history more alive than any textbook ever could.

~ McQuade’s Legacy ~

McQuade passed away at age 91 in 2008 but continues to live on in the hearts and minds of her 15 children and 43 grandchildren. Beyond her own family, McQuade’s legacy and efforts to establish Grandparents Day will continue to impact on families for generations to come.


~ Legacy Videos ~

Capture your grandparent’s life story and family history for your family to know and cherish!

90th Birthday gifts by Family Tree Video

Here at Family Tree Video we produce Legacy Videos, modern-day memoirs that weave a filmed interview together with family photos, documents, maps and other memorabilia. The result is a beautiful “Moving Portrait” capturing your loved one as they recount their life story and memories – a gift your family will treasure for generations to come.

Generations United wants everyone to do something grand for Grandparents Day!

Marian McQuade
Jacob Reingold
Jacob Reingold

National Grandparents Day is rooted in the innovative work of two committed and passionate pioneers: Jacob Reingold and Marian McQuade.

During the 1961 White House Conference on Aging, Jacob Reingold of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale was inspired by a speech concerning the “new image of the aged,” he focused on recognizing the role of millions of older Americans who are grandparents.  That same year, on September 16, 1961, the first day specifically honoring grandparents was held at the Hebrew Home.   By 1963 it became an official holiday in the borough of the Bronx.  And in January 27, 1987 the Congressional Record affirmed Jacob Reingold’s pioneering efforts to gain recognition for grandparents as well as a national day to celebrate them.

In 1970, Marian McQuade began a campaign to establish a special day of recognition for grandparents. Through her efforts, she reached out to the civic, business, faith, and political leaders and began a statewide campaign for Grandparents Day. In 1973, the first Grandparents Day in West Virginia was proclaimed by Governor Arch Moore.

Their work culminated in 1978,  when the United States Congress passed legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. A presidential proclamation was signed by President Jimmy Carter and thus began the observation of this special holiday.

In 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, President Obama issued presidential proclamations calling on Americans to “honor those who have helped shape the character of our Nation, and thank these role models for their immeasurable acts of love, care, and understanding.”

Generations United is urging grandparents and older adults to share their wisdom, perspectives and key civic values with young people on Grandparents Day. We’re calling on older adults to join with today’s youth in reaching out to decision makers and beginning one of the most important dialogues in our history: discussing how, as a country, we can address the many challenges facing future generations—from literacy to health and wellness to financial stability. Celebrate Grandparents Day by committing to Do Something Grand!

On the first Sunday after Labor Day we celebrate National Grandparents Day. This year the date falls on September 12. Like Mother’s day and Father’s day we also have a whole day dedicated to our grandparents. Grandparents and children have a special connection that is proven to both make grandparents live longer, and also make children more emotionally resilient. Grandparents Day is an opportunity to treasure that connection and spend some quality family time together.


Grandparents Day is celebrated the first Sunday after Labor Day, which is September 13 this year.


In 1969, nine-year-old Russell Capper sent President Nixon a letter suggesting that a day should be set aside in order to celebrate grandparents. On June 12, 1969, he received a letter back from Rose Mary Woods — Personal Secretary to the President — reading, “Dear Russell, Thank you for your letter to President Nixon. Your suggestion regarding a Grandparent’s Day is appreciated, but the President ordinarily issues proclamations designating periods for special observance only when a Congressional resolution authorizes him to do so. With best wishes, Sincerely, Rose Mary Woods Personal Secretary to the President.”

Following this letter, Marian McQuade was recognized nationally by the U.S. Senate and by President Jimmy Carter as the founder of National Grandparents Day. McQuade wanted to educate the youth about the importance of seniors and the contributions they have made throughout history. She urged the youth to “adopt” a grandparent and learn more about their lives, challenges, and desires for the future.

In 1977, Senator Randolph, with the help of other senators, introduced a joint resolution to the senate requesting the president to “issue annually a proclamation designating the first Sunday of September after Labor Day of each year as ‘National Grandparents’ Day’.” Congress passed the legislation, proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparent’s Day. On August 3, 1978, Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation, and the day was finally celebrated the following year.

The holiday falls on Sunday, September 13 this year. Read this before you rush out to buy a cheesy card.

You know that Grandparents Day, taking place the Sunday after Labor Day every year, is a holiday for celebrating your parents’ parents. You might send them a card, or give them a call. But how did the holiday come to be? Did it originate out of a sweet, sincere desire to celebrate the young at heart… or was it all a giant marketing scheme to sell more stuff?

It is, in fact, the former. When West Virginia native Marian McQuade first thought of the idea for the holiday, commercialism was the last thing on her mind. In 1956, McQuade was trying to plan a celebration for the elderly members of her community. She made the sad discovery that many of the senior citizens in the nursing home didn’t often receive visits from their families. So she set out to designate a day to honor and appreciate grandparents. Here’s a tip–always follow your grandparents’ advice, unless you’re discussing these specific topics.

Thanks to a federal proclamation signed by President Jimmy Carter, Grandparents Day became an official holiday in 1978. And it’s not actually just for grandparents. The National Grandparents Day Council says that it’s also “to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children.” In any case, McQuade never wanted the holiday to be a money grab. Mother’s Day actually has a similar story; in fact, its founder wanted it discontinued in the 1920s after she saw how commercialized it had become.

However, McQuade’s intentions didn’t stop card companies and florists from getting excited about the prospect of a new holiday. They set out to promote it as much as possible. In fact, Hallmark predicted that, by 1983, Grandparents Day would become the sixth highest card-selling holiday. But to their dismay, it never gained a ton of steam as a commercial holiday. Today, many other holidays outrank it for card sales: Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and even St. Patrick’s Day. However, it’s definitely outpacing these totally wacky holidays.


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Many families have much more meaningful ways of celebrating the holiday. Even if your grandparents live far away, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with them; just take it from this long-distance grandma. Danielle Kirsch of GreatCall celebrates by trying a new activity every year with her grandmother Elsie. “This year, we’ll be painting together,” she tells Reader’s Digest. Molly Arnold’s grandmother is no longer around, yet she still finds a beautiful way to honor the holiday. Arnold is the Chief Operations Officer of the Frank and Barbara Broyles Foundation, a charity she created in memory of her grandmother, Barbara Broyles, who passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. According to Arnold, the experience “inspired [her family] to start the Broyles Foundation as a resource for caregivers, both family and professional, across the U.S.” These gifts are perfect for the grandparents in your life. 

However, just because the holiday is not about the merchandise doesn’t mean you can’t exchange gifts. actually suggests that grandparents give their grandchildren gifts, especially gifts that “honor family traditions.” For instance, this tear-jerkingly meaningful gift from a grandpa to his granddaughter was actually a birthday gift, but we think it’s a perfect Grandparents Day idea.

Where would we be without them?

Traditionally observed on the first Sunday after Labor Day, National Grandparents Day is celebrated this year in the US and Canada on Sunday, September 12, 2021.

In the US, Grandparents Day may be observed with happy family get-togethers, travel excursions that include Grandma and Grandpa, and even civic events that celebrate grandparents throughout an entire community.

All about Grandparents Day

Celebrating grandparents was a fairly new idea when West Virginian native, Marian McQuade, pressed the U.S. Senate to proclaim a special day for grandparents in 1978.

That same year, President Jimmy Carter signed the bill into law proclaiming special recognition for grandparents throughout the land.

As the popularity of Grandparents Day caught on, forget-me-nots were designated the official flower of Grandparents Day.

Today, Grandparents Day remains a great excuse for family get-togethers — marked with greeting cards, flower bouquets, special grandparents day gifts, or for treating grandparents to a dinner out or homemade feast in their honor.

DID YOU KNOW? Grandparents Day fun facts

• In the US, it’s grandma and grandpa. In Latin America and Spain it’s abuela and abuelo. In Italy, it’s nonna and nonno, and in Germany oma and opa are the traditional names for a grandmother and grandfather.
• In the US and Canada, Grandparents Day is celebrated in September on the first Sunday after Labor Day. Meanwhile, in the UK, it’s the first Sunday in October. In Germany, Grandmothers Day is observed on the second Sunday in October. Dia del Abuelo, or Grandparents Day, is celebrated in Mexico every year on August 28.

• Famous people who have been raised by their grandparents include Oprah Winfrey, Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, actor Jack Nicholson, singer Willie Nelson, funny lady Carol Burnett, and poet Maya Angelou.

• Grandparents are younger than ever today with a median age of 48. More than half the grandparents in the United States are baby boomers and about 10% have tattoos!

• Grandparents are wonderful caregivers (think about all the experience they have!) with more than 2 million grandparents in the US acting as the head of household.

More about Grandparents Day around the Web:

Around the Web, check out fun activities for the kids, e-cards to send, crafts to create, and family history to explore – for a complete celebration of Grandparents Day ….


Grand Activities for Grandparents Day – This is a great resource for teachers and parents with ideas for activities and events, poems and lesson plans.

National Grandparents Day – Check out the Wikipedia history with fun facts and background information on the holiday with related photos and resources.

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