World Day of Peace, celebrated on January 1 every year, is primarily a Catholic feast day dedicated to universal peace on the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. On this occasion, Popes generally make authoritative declarations on the Catholic Social Teachings (C.S.T.). The theme of the feast has always been about creating a culture of care. The Pope and the Vatican Church stress the need to care and share tolerance for each other, and to create a society that focuses on good moral values and does not yield to the temptation to disregard others. The benefits of a peaceful society have been the emphasis of every year’s World Day of Peace.
History of World Day of Peace
World Day of Peace began in 1967 when Pope Paul VI announced that the world needs to be sensitized and oriented for peace and understanding. Inspired by the papal letters “Pacem in Terris” and “Populorum Progressio”, the Pope recommended that the church play a greater role in our search for world peace, and so this day, January 1, was appointed as a holy day to celebrate efforts for world peace.
According to the letters “Pacem in Terris” and “Populorum Progressio,” the Church and the Pope would focus on working toward achieving peace by developing order in four major areas: The relationship of an individual with other human beings, the relationship of an individual with particular states, the relationship of states among states, and the relationship of individuals and states with the worldwide community. The church determined that in order to achieve actual peace, a culture of understanding and tolerance must be developed, beginning from the individual up to the state and then the global level.
Though the main theme of World Day of Peace does not change (creating a culture of care), Keeping the main theme around every year’s observance of World Day of Peace fixated around the concept of creating a culture of care, the sub-themes changes every year to match the needs and rising issues of that year. The sub-theme for 2020 was ‘Hope,’ which came as a tribute to the world’s suffering from COVID-19.
World Day of Peace timeline
Pope Paul VI proposes that January 1 be celebrated as World Day of Peace.
Following the Pope’s announcement, the first World Day of Peace is celebrated on January 1, 1968.
Inspired by the Catholic World Day of Peace, the U.N.-sponsored International Day of Peace begins in 1981.
On the 50th celebration of this day, the Pope’s message recognizes the migrants and refugees in search of peace.
The theme for 2019 is to remind the people that state politics is only to be done to achieve peace for the people living in these states.
World Day of Peace FAQs
What is the Catholic meaning of peace?
Peace in the Catholic tradition is tied to positive virtues such as love and social works such as justice.
Is World Day of Peace a religious event?
It is sponsored and led by the Vatican Church but comes as a social call to make efforts to establish peace and tolerance in the world.
Can people of other faiths observe World Day of Peace?
World Day of Peace is only hosted by the Vatican; it’s not a strictly religious observance. It’s for everyone.
How to Observe World Day of Peace
Pray for peace
When nothing else can be done, one can always pray for peace. One can always pray for those who are distressed, are in agony, or are away from home. A simple prayer for the welfare of those people can make a difference.
Learn about peace
Without knowing the unrest in the world, the social and political issues in the world, a person would be oblivious to the fact of how much the world needs peace. Learn about these issues from different sources, and think about how the world can be made better.
Act for peace
After all your prayers and learning, act. Play your part in the effort to achieve peace. Teach others about the issues and help the distressed people in your area. Save someone from the misery caused by social and political issues. Spread awareness in your circle.
5 Facts About World Day Of Peace Everyone Should Know
It is basically a feast
World Day of Peace is basically a feast celebrated by the Vatican Church and dedicated to global peace.
Five Popes since the first World Day of Peace
Five popes have served in the Vatican since the first celebration in 1967, and one of them, St. John Paul I, server as pope for only 33 days.
Same theme, different messages
Every year the theme has been about peace, but the annual message has changed, based on the events of that year.
St. John Paul II lived to deliver 27 declarations of Social Doctrine on 27 celebrations of World Day of Peace.
A Peace Sunday in England and Wales
In England and Wales, the Sunday that falls between January 14 and 20 is celebrated as a Peace Sunday by the Church of Great Britain.
Why World Day of Peace is Important
It comes as a statement
In today’s world where intolerance is prevalent, people need to be reminded of how important social tolerance is. This observance comes in as a reminder of peace and tolerance.
It gives hope
To the people who are living under hardships as refugees or victims of rebellion, the day comes in as a symbol of hope that they have not been abandoned and that the world can still be a better place.
It's a call action
It gives a platform to people and organizations from which we can give a call for action to work together on achieving peace, by addressing social and political issues.
World Day of Peace dates