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This year marks the 40th birthday of National Grandparents Day, which is celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day every year. 

Mark your calendar for this year and the next two to come:

  • September 9, 2018
  • September 8, 2019
  • September 13, 2020

Curious about how the holiday came into existence? Here’s the backstory.

Back in 1970, Marian McQuade, a West Virginia housewife, came up with the idea of setting a day aside to encourage families to visit their elderly relatives. Lobbying policymakers, McQuade got through to her Senators, Jennings Randolph and Robert Byrd, who introduced a resolution to make Grandparents Day a national holiday.

It took a while to reach the White House, but finally, in 1978, the resolution declaring National Grandparents Day was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter.

While many people may dismiss the concept as just another made-up holiday—according to the National Day Calendar, Sunday is also National Teddy Bear Day, while National Pancake Day and National Coffee Day fall later this month—there’s never really a bad day to honor and show love for grandparents and celebrate the bonds between generations. 

Here are a few facts about the holiday and official celebrations for this year.

Grandparents Day activities. While there are no official national celebrations or special events, the advocacy group Generation United has an action guide to help families connect this Grandparents Day. And if you #takeagrandie, the organization is holding a photo competition for the best intergenerational photo, complete with a mystery prize.

You can also check with your local Chamber of Commerce or area museums and civic organizations to see if they are sponsoring events. The Greater Powell Chamber of Commerce in Delaware, Ohio, for example, is promoting a free Grandparents Day event with activities for children and adults alike.

Meanwhile, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit has planned a day full of storytelling, music, and special museum exhibits. The Children’s Museum in Pittsburgh is offering free entry to grandparents who attend with their grandkids plus 20% off on membership.

Discounts and deals. Compared to the plethora of special offers from retailers and restaurants for Mother’s and Father’s Days, Grandparents Day gets the short end of the stick.

A Google search turned up only two national deals: White Castle is offering $3 off its Castle Pack combo package meals. And at 1-800flowers, you get a free custom picture frame with your Grandparents Day flower or plant purchase.

Hallmark ranking. Many characterize the day as just another Hallmark holiday, but as those things go, Grandparents Day doesn’t rank very highly. It not even cracking the top five, according to the company.

What does? Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day are the top-sellers for greeting cards, Hallmark says.

Official song. Yes, there’s a Grandparents Day song, though it’s not exactly official. A guy from Bad Axe, Mich. named Johnny Prill released A Song for Grandma and Grandpa in honor of the holiday in 2005.

Is it any good? You can judge for yourself: A Song for Grandma and Grandpa.

Other ideas to help you celebrate your Grandparents Day

5 Easy Grandparents Day Crafts

Looking for a fun way to spend Grandparents Day? Gather your grandkids and make one of these cute keepsakes together.

Grandparents Day Quotes

You’ll love this huge compilation of funny, heartwarming, and wise quotes about grandparents, grandmothers, and grandfathers

15 Fun Facts About Grandparents

Wow your family and impress your friends with this mind-bending collection of grandparenting trivia.

The Ultimate Guide to Grandparent Names

We have every name you can possibly think of, and then some. Pick yours!

7 Unbreakable Laws of Grandparenting

Columnist Barbara Graham shares the family rules that can keep you out of trouble.

8 Activities Kids Love to Do with Grandparents

When you’re a kid, there’s nothing better than learning something fun and new from your grandparents.

8 Famous People Raised by Grandparents

Grandparents didn’t just raise these actors, musicians, politicians, and writers – they gave them the tools to succeed.

8 great Grandparents Day activities

Try these fun ways to bond with your grandchildren as you celebrate the grandest day of the year!

Additional reporting by Jackie Zimmerman