World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day Date in the current year: May 8, 2017

World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is an annual celebration held on May 8. It commemorates the birthday of Henry Dunant, Swiss businessman and social activist who inspired the creation of International Committee of the Red Cross.

In 1859, Henry Durant made a business trip to Italy and witnessed the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino. He was greatly moved by what he saw and recorded his impressions in the book A Memory of Solferino.

In the book, he developed the idea of a neutral organization aimed at providing care to wounded soldiers. Eventually this idea was supported by many influential people. Thus the International Committee of the Red Cross was founded. Today it is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The Red Cross was chosen as an emblem because it represented the Swiss flag (the committee was founded in Geneva). However, the Ottoman Empire refused to use it, claiming that the cross was a Christian symbol and using a Red Crescent instead. It was formally recognized as the second official symbol in 1929.

International Red Cross Day was first celebrated in 1948. In 1984, its official title was changed to World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day to honor both emblems of the movement that existed at the moment. The third official emblem, the Red Crystal, was introduced in 2006, but it is not reflected in the name of the movement or the holiday.

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International Observances

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World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, international observance, International Committee of the Red Cross, Henry Durant