December’s Hidden Holiday

Human Rights Day: This year we celebrate the 71st anniversary since the declaration in 1948 of the Human Rights Day. Image Source:

Kalista Martin and Gabriel Colman

December is a crowded month; kids minds are filled with thoughts of what they will do during winter break. People are ready and thinking of the new year to come and the approaching weather. However, in crowded December, there may be one holiday that does not receive enough recognition: Human Rights Day, which is celebrated annually on December 10th.

The day is meant to commemorate the official date that the United Nations General Assembly finally adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Though it was officially started in 1948, the formal inception of Human Rights Day was in 1950 after the assembly invited all nations to observe December 10 as Human Rights Day. In the declaration, it’s defined to be, “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations” and was the first universal statement that all human beings have certain inherent rights that are inalienable.

Prior to the adoption of the UDHR, human rights had been expressed in other international and domestic instruments, such as the Charter of the United Nations and the United States Bill of Rights, but there was no dedicated statement about human rights internationally. The UDHR consists of a preamble and thirty articles covering such human rights as freedom of expression, assembly, movement, and religion. It sets the basic principle of equality and non-discrimination in terms of the enjoyment of human rights, and affirms that everyone shall be free from slavery, torture, and arbitrary arrest or detention. Article 1 describes the philosophy on which the UDHR is based reading: “All human beings are born free and equal in, dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

The declaration was meant to be a first step so that individuals and societies could strive by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, though the UDHR was a common standard of achievement that everyone needed to do more and continue the fight for human rights. “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. […] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world,” Eleanor Roosevelt said during this time.

Now people celebrate Human Rights Day to remember the struggles people in the past have gone through to fight for their own rights as well as the rights of others, and to remember the fight still isn’t over. This holiday also allows for the emphasis on the relevance of Human Rights in people’s everyday lives.

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