Darwin Day, also known as International Darwin Day, celebrates the birthday and life of Charles Darwin, the "Father of Evolution", every year on February 12. This day is observed all around the world, and it promotes science by highlighting all of Darwin's contributions to the scientific field.
Darwin was very fascinated by the relationship between humans and animals, and Darwinism, or his theory of evolution, radically changed people's way of thinking about all living things and how they're related and can be pinpointed as a moment in time that defined our understanding of the world.
Charles Darwin's life and achievements have been celebrated ever since his death in 1882. Through the years, events would take place in his house to honor him and his work, scientists and academics around the world would meet at universities to discuss Darwin's theories and contributions, and statues were erected in his memory.
There were some sporadic commemorations held on February 12 that can be traced back to as early as 1909, the 100th anniversary of Darwin's birthday and 50th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of the Species.
In the United States, the idea for a Darwin Day was first introduced by Pete Stark, a California Representative. Stark, together with the American Humanist Association, introduced a resolution to Congress asking for February 12, 2011, to be designated as Darwin Day in honor of Darwin as a symbol of scientific advancement.
It was in 2015 that the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 67, introduced by Jim Himes, officially designating February 12 as Darwin Day, to be observed annually in the United States.
Who Was Charles Darwin?
Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, in a small town in England. From a young age, Darwin was interested in exploring nature, likely because he was descended from a long line of scientists. At the young age of 16, Darwin joined the University of Edinburgh, and two years later transferred to the University of Cambridge, where he studied natural history.
After graduating in 1831, his mentor botanist John Henslow recommended Darwin to work as a naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle, who was going on a five-year survey trip around the world. During his time on board the vessel, Darwin had the opportunity to collect a big variety of natural specimens that would contribute to his research. This journey had a big impact on Darwin's view of natural history, and when he returned to England in 1836 he wrote about his findings for the Journal of Researches and began developing his revolutionary theory on the origin of the species.
Charles Darwin died of unknown causes in London on April 19, 1882, at the age of 73.
Darwinism and the Theory of Evolution
Charles Darwin published his book On The Origin of Species on November 24, 1859. In it, he explains his theory of evolution, declaring that all living beings evolved and survived through the process of natural selection. This means that species survived and evolved by adapting to changes in their natural habitats, thus changing over time and giving rise to new species. This meant that all species share a common ancestor from whom they evolved, which went against the common belief at the time that all beings were created by God.
This theory of evolution revolutionized all scientific thinking and is now considered a foundational concept in science.
Darwin Day Activities
There are many events across the World and the United States to celebrate Darwin Day. There are workshops and lectures, debates, competitions, symposia, concerts, plays and poetry readings, exhibitions, and library displays. All of them have the purpose of spreading the work and legacy of Charles Darwin, and the ways in which his theory advanced science.
One of the most popular events of this day was founded in 2000 and is known today as the Darwin Day Celebration. This event, created by three academics, is committed to bringing science education to different countries.
You can celebrate this day by learning more about Charles Darwin and his work. Read On The Origin of Species, watch a documentary, or pay a visit to the closest natural history museum.