Changing nappies, showing you how to ride a bicycle, sending you to college, teaching you to drive, or simply being there when needed, being a dad is a tough job! And that’s why Father’s Day has become an important celebration in some form or another almost globally. It gives children of all ages a chance to say thank you to their dads, and to show them just how much they appreciate all that they do. Of course, paying your dad back for all the money he spent on you would likely require winning a live progressive jackpot, so some other means of gratitude are required.
But what that means of gratitude involve varies from country to country. Strangely enough, most aren’t even aware that the Westernised equivalent of the day only officially came about in 1972. It was the result of a woman in Spokane, Washington, who pushed to make Father’s Day official, with only moms getting any sort of recognition up until that point. We mean in a broader sense, of course, before any accusations of sexism are thrown about.
Father’s Day existed as a concept long before 1972, with a number of countries in the world approaching in from unique perspectives. For other countries it is a much more recent concept. Let’s take a look.
For Brazilians, the Father’s Day equivalent is celebrated on the second Sunday in August. Coming about in the 1950s the day in question was not necessarily, and still isn’t necessarily, a celebration of fathers in general. Instead it is held in commemoration for Saint Joachim, who was the Father of the Virgin Mary. Regardless, children present their fathers with gifts, and family activities are enjoyed.
Father’s Day in Canada is an unofficial holiday, imported from neighbours down South; the United States. Held on the third Sunday of June, and following the same rules as the country from which it borrowed the tradition, Canadians buy cards, enjoy family meals and do otherwise generally accepted family friendly things. Much laughter and enjoyment is had by all, and dad usually gets a fun tie or a pair of socks to add to his collection.
Held on the 1st Sunday in September, New Zealand is another country that follows all the expected Western traditions. Cards and gifts are given, and families generally sit around and create postcard-worthy moments of celebration.
The tradition of Father’s Day in France is an interesting one. The more recent version of the holiday is celebrated on the third Sunday in June, and was more or less entirely created by a single company. This company wanted to sell lighters, and thought a great way to do so was market them as the perfect gift for fathers that puffed a cigarette or two. Of course, with smoking falling out of favour in recent years, the tradition has shifted to giving fathers small gifts in general, lighters or otherwise. Though even prior to the lighter marketing campaign, the celebration of Saint Joseph was held on March 19th, and was an unofficial Father’s Day prior to the more recent iteration.
Germans, according to modern stereotypes, enjoy drinking beer. But we would never assume that any German Father’s Day celebrations involve drinking beer. But they generally do, if looking at the broader tradition. Held on the 6th Sunday after Easter, Vatertag is a dual celebration, coinciding with Mannertag, or Man’s Day. The tradition involves males in the family heading off and doing generally manly things, including hiking, biking, camping, and yes, drinking. We don’t assume that every family engages in the drinking part, but it is often part of the celebration, by tradition. The ladies of the house volunteer to stay at home with the children on such days, allowing their men to have a day all to themselves.
In Japan Father’s Day is held on the 3rd June in Sunday. The tradition includes children gathering flowers for their father, as well as hand crating beverage glasses. A celebratory meal is enjoyed, which is generally seafood based. Central items in the meal are often crabs and prawns.
On the 3rd Sunday of June the residents of Mexico celebrate with food and music. But what makes the Mexican folk stand apart is that they balance out their feasting with a healthy alternative. A 21 kilometre race is held, referred to as the Carrera Día del Padre 21K Bosque de Tlalpan. So we’re guessing that in Mexico you’re either the sort of father that feasts, or the kind that trains all year and spends the day running.
Lastly, we have Russia, which is another country that has a rather interesting Father’s Day. Fascinatingly enough, modern Father’s Day grew from what was originally a military commemoration. Held on February 23rd, the day is referred to as Defender of the Fatherland Day. The celebration was originally to acknowledge the Russian Armed Forces, with a parade that paid tribute to those who were currently in the military, and those who had lost their lives defending the country. Gradually the celebration grew to be a general celebration of men, and on this day they receive gifts from the ladies in their lives and their families.