Global Family Day is celebrated each year on 1st January, but since it is something that evolved almost spontaneously, it is hard to pin down its actual origins.
Traditionally 1st January has always been regarded as a day of new beginnings. New Year Resolutions have customarily been made that generally involve some effort to modify behaviour and lead a better life. Cutting down on the consumption of chocolate or alcohol, giving up smoking or taking more exercise are popular, although not always lasting, intentions.
On a broader note, it has also traditionally come to be a day to consider ways of promoting peace, both within local communities and in the wider world.
In November 1997 the UN General Assembly made a declaration that the first year of the new millennium should see the launch of an International Decade for the Culture of Peace and non-violence for the Children of the World and that the decade should be ushered in by "One Day of Peace".
In November 1999 a formal invitation to participate was sent to all UN member states and the declaration was soon followed by a vote in the US Congress that backed this up by establishing the first day of the year as a special time of peace and sharing.
Although not universally adopted, this first "Day of Peace" was felt to be so significant that in 2001 the United Nations established this Observance as an annual event. The event has now become known as Global Family Day and is recognised by more than two thirds of the world's population.
Initial thoughts about Global Family Day are that it relates simply to celebrating and loving your own family unit. This is naturally most important and is only right and proper. The family unit is one of the most important groupings in existence, providing leadership, guidance and mutual support, but it can take a number of forms.
In all cases there will be a head of the family, traditionally but not necessarily the senior male member, who will provide the leadership. The younger members of the family group will learn from the older ones as they prepare for adulthood.
While the family group in the Western World is generally regarded as a mother, father and one or more children, in other parts of the world family units are often extended to include other relatives in addition to parents and children.
Families always have high expectations for quality care to be given to elderly relatives, who are the senior members of the family group. Traditionally this has been the responsibility of the extended family, but in the developed countries of the so-called modern world this is a "duty" that now is often passed to someone else, usually at considerable expense. Many other cultures continue to regard the care of the elderly as being a family responsibility.
Global Family Day also recognises that we are all part of the global family that makes up the human race.
Ideally this would be a peaceful and loving human race, but regrettably there are divisions that are caused by a whole series of global effects and crises that are taking place all over the planet. As a result the human race is far from being a loving and united family.
It is often forgotten that Barack Obama, the President of the United States, was also the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, so as such he is naturally a firm believer in world harmony.
He firmly advocates that the peoples of the world should find a way to live together as one human family. The only way to deal with the crises that divide us, he said, is for the world's population to be united and to battle these crises together.
So what can people do?
It is suggested that Global Family Day is a day for sharing. Activities can be fairly modest, but they can be far reaching. Families might come together and share food in small and simple food ceremonies where they can make personal pledges to promote the message of peace throughout the world.
Another way to mark the day is to reach out to people in the community and neighbourhood, especially people who live alone or people with whom you may have lost touch. Modern methods of communication can be used where these are appropriate.
Personal pledges for the future can be exchanged with loved ones and it should be remembered that there is always room to take a look at personal achievements during the past year and to find a little space for some self-congratulation.
There are countless ways in which Global Family Day can be celebrated, but whichever way we choose to spend the day, it gives us the opportunity to think about other members of the Global Family. We may live thousands of miles away from each other and have vastly different customs and lifestyles, but it is only by increasing our understanding of our fellow members of the human race that world peace will ever be assured.