Rome, July 23, 2023 – On the fourth Sunday of July 2023, which this year will be July 23, the whole world will celebrate the World Day of Grandparents and Older Persons. In any case, it is not about Grandparents Day, a pagan celebration (so to speak) that takes place every year on October 2. On the contrary, the international event was born relatively recently at the precise request of His Holiness Pope Francis. The first time that the Supreme Pontiff decided to institute this event was two years ago, to properly pay tribute to the older generations, so valuable to the community with their enormous baggage of stories and human experience.
Why is it celebrated in July?
Every year, on July 26, the memory of the Saints Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Virgin Mary. To be precise, there are no concrete references to them in the Bible and therefore there is no 100% sure information about these two historical figures. According to some apocryphal gospels, it seems that Ana was the daughter of Acar and sister of Esmeria, mother of Isabel and, consequently, also the grandmother of John the Baptist. Legend has it that Joaquín was instead a very rich man, esteemed and belonging to the lineage of David. The couple had enormous problems having children, a condition that both experienced with deep dishonor until Gioacchino decided to embark on a journey to the desert to purify himself and implore God for the grace of an imminent pregnancy. The man’s pleas and Anna’s prayers convinced God, who sent an angel to announce the birth of his first child, Mary.
The election of Pope Francis
The Pontiff has chosen to organize this important celebration inspired by the Catholic feast of “Presentation of Jesus in the Temple”which is actually celebrated on February 2, the day of Candlemas: on this second date, according to Christian tradition, two old men, Simeon and Anna, “enlightened by the Holy Spirit, they recognized Jesus as the Messiah”; Also on February 2, another important anniversary is remembered, namely the party of the meeting of grandparents with their grandchildren.
In January 2021explaining the reasons for your decision, Pope Francis He declared at the end of his Angelus: “The elderly remind us that old age is a gift and that grandparents are the link between the different generations to transmit to the young the experience of life and faith. Grandparents are often forgotten, let us not forget this richness, this transmission of roots, and for this reason I have decided to institute the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly to be celebrated throughout the Church every year on the fourth Sunday of July, next to the anniversary of Saints Joachim and Anna, the grandparents of Jesus. It is important that grandparents meet grandchildren and grandchildren meet grandparents because, as the prophet Joel says, grandparents will dream before grandchildren They will have the illusion. And the young, drawing strength from their grandparents, will come forward and prophesy. And precisely on February 2 is the party of the meeting”.
How our relationship with the elderly has changed after the pandemic
Before the terrible Covid-19 epidemic spread like wildfire throughout the world, many probably took for granted the real value that older people have in our lives, and even more so a grandfather or grandmother.
However, since March 2020, something has clearly changed: with hundreds of older people dying every day in our country from the virus, perhaps we have become more aware of how limited our time with older people is and how valuable it is to be able to make every minute spent with them count. The distance from their grandparents for many people was truly heartbreaking from this point of view, to the point that they realized how important this was. connection to the past and how these people had too often been “forgotten” and left alone.
The importance of grandparents for children
Any working man or woman who has had a child knows how much it can be the support of a relative such as a grandfather or grandmother is essential in the growth of the child, but also in the organization of time itself. Grandparents often help parents manage their work commitments, caring for the little ones for several hours a day until mom or dad returns.
This type of closeness, beyond the utility itself, is essential. Grandparents They are the link between past, present and future. and bring with them all the historical and cultural heritage of their own family, keep the most precious memories and are capable of transmitting naturally teachings that many times not even the parents themselves are capable of transmitting. Grandparents are people who transmit unconditional love, different but no less important than that of a mother or father, and manage to become points of reference for the youngest during adolescence, a very delicate period during which, as a general rule, boys and girls begin to develop important conflicts with the people who brought them into the world. Spending time at the grandparents’ house also helps children become more independent from their parents because, for example, it is thanks to them that they begin to learn to sleep even outside the four walls they have always known. In addition, being close to their grandchildren helps grandparents feel less alone and abandoned at an extremely delicate stage in their lives, in which they begin to feel that time is running out.
There are innumerable activities that grandparents (or the elderly in general) can do together with the little ones, from walks, bike rides, gardening, cooking and the classic petanque. Any of these commitments can be precious, in order to create a relationship of complicity and deep personal growth made of reciprocity.