"Let's go fly a kite! Up to the highest height!" Mary Poppins and George Banks taught us well.

As you may be humming the familiar tune now, let's talk kites. February 8 marks National Kite Flying Day. On this day, people of any age are encouraged to embrace all things kites. If the weather is beautiful with a brisk wind, consider heading outdoors to fly a kite. And if it's stormy or if there's just no wind to be had, you can stay indoors and build a kite. Whether you're celebrating on your own or with a group of people, there's something just right for you.

"Many scholars believe that they were developed in China. Other evidence suggests that kites were used by cultures in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the South Pacific as fishing instruments made of natural materials like leaves and reeds," says the American Kitefliers Association.

Kites have been around for more than two centuries. Many origins connect kites with the way the wind affects leaves on trees. There are stories told of kites created to spy on sailors or enemies and to send messages.

The earliest kites were constructed from bamboo reeds with leaves or silk fabric attached to catch the wind. The string we use nowadays used to be a braided cord or growing vines. People used kites constructively as well as in celebratory parades or cultural ceremonies. 

Today, kites come in all shapes and sizes. For children, kites can be mass-produced and sporting their favorite princess or superhero. For the more developed hobbyist, kites can include intricate design. The traditional diamond-shaped kite is still popular today, along with box kites and triangular kites. Stunt kites are designed with more maneuverability into dips and turns.

According to National Geographic, there are kite festivals in many countries throughout the year. Guatemala, India, England, Indonesia, and Australia are all home to some of the greatest kite festivals.

"Join in the fun, but remember that kite-flying can be injurious to birds, even humans who get entangled in the string, so use cotton thread instead of the abrasive manja that is coated with powdered glass, pick open grounds, and remove any kite strings that are caught in trees," writes National Geographic.

Tips for getting your kite up in the air and keeping it there

Thanks to the experts at National Day Calendar, here are some helpful (and safe!) tips to ensure a successful time flying your kite.

  • Check that the kite is assembled correctly. Double-check that you have all of the pieces and supplies for your kite. You can also pack a few spare supplies such as extra string and scissors in case your kite gets caught and needs to be restrung.
  • Observe the wind. Some kites require more wind than others. It's ideal to have clear skies and a light breeze (5-20 mph).
  • Be safe. Don’t fly a kite near power lines, trees, or other sky-high obstacles. Wide-open spaces are best. 
  • Avoid any bad weather. Don't fly a kite in high winds, rain, and especially in lightning storms.
  • Have your back to the wind when launching your kite. You can ask a friend to hold the kite down as you hold the line tight. Continue reeling in the line slowly until the kite catches a gust of wind. 
  • Continue to hold the line tight. Let it out slowly (not too quickly), as the kite is gaining altitude.

How to celebrate National Kite Flying Day

Outside of the obvious, we've gathered some creative ways to help you get the most out of the day.

  • Head to the park and watch other kite flyers. Take in the scene and capture a few photos to commemorate the day.
  • If weather permits, grab your kite and head outside to fly it.
  • Don't shed tears if it's raining outside. You can easily stay indoors to craft your own kite for the next sunny and windy day. Check out these ideas (including step-by-step instructions) to make your own kite.
  • Find a nearby kite festival to attend. Pack your bags, grab some friends, and make it into a long weekend trip.

How did you celebrate National Kite Flying Day? Share in the comments below.