In a year which has been full of challenges, this international celebration aims to unite the world in play.
The celebration was created by Swedish play and education activist Suzanne Axelsson. It takes place annually over three days on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday closest to the September 21st equinox. These dates were chosen because it’s a time when we are all united by the number of daylight hours, no matter where we are in the world. Participants can celebrate on one of these days or all of these days, which will this year fall on Thursday 17, Friday 18 and Saturday 19 of September.
“We might not all share the same resources, the same seasons, the same cultures or religions, but we can share the fact we all have 12 hours of daylight and we can celebrate children’s right to play.”
Suzanne says that the celebration is a chance for people to see how other children celebrate around the world – to investigate the differences and delight in the similarities.
“And they get to find out that the children in Australia and New Zealand start first because the day starts there and then spreads across the globe. So there is a chance to learn about time differences. Also that some celebrate in autumn and others in spring, while other countries have a different way of dividing the year than four seasons.”
The theme was chosen because it is inclusive to all religions and cultures and promotes outdoor play and nature exploration.
“The aim is to have as many playing at the same time – a massive celebration of play and imagination,” shares Suzanne on the event Facebook page. “Raising awareness of the importance of play and creativity. There is also a focus on nature and sustainability. How can we play and celebrate as well as being respectful to nature, create space and time for the children to experience nature… to #slowdown and #lookclosely for both educators and children.”
How to sign up:
Simply head to this post on Facebook, add the name of your service and location (including town and country) in the comments, and Suzanne will add you to the map.
Families are also welcome to join.
After you have celebrated, Suzanne invites participants to share some photos on the International Fairy Tea Party Facebook page so that all participants can be inspired and share in the play and imagination around the world.
“I realise that this year is going to have to be a little different – COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives – and maybe we need some magic and play even more than ever,” says Suzanne. “Maybe there will need to be lots of isolated fairy tea parties – at home but yet by magic still together with everyone else playing fairies in the world. Maybe we should all plan to be outdoor fairies as much as possible to ensure future good health. Even if there is physical distance we are closer through the power of play and imagination.”
Suzanne Axelsson lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden. She has a masters in ECE, Sheffield University, UK, her home country, where she specialised in Reggio Emilia, language and communication, documentation as a tool to aid memory and deepen children’s learning, and investigating what ”quality” is in an early years setting.
Read more from Suzanne on her blog Interaction Imagination where she focuses on play and democratic learning.