by Lia Blanchard
Maybe it’s our culture, and maybe it’s men’s predisposition to avoid sentimentality, but Fathers’ Day just doesn’t get the same press that Mothers’ Day does. I’m here to change that, because there are lots of great Dads out there who deserve recognition! Let’s start by taking a global look at Fathers’ Day traditions.
Germans don’t observe Fathers’ Day quite like anyone else does. It always falls on the Thursday that’s 40 days after Easter (Ascension Day), and it’s a national holiday celebrated with great fervor and lots of beer. Vatertag processions of the Middle Ages have become something more of a pub crawl; searching YouTube will find you lots of videos of men riding bicycles around town, hauling their alcohol with them. Also called Herrentag, the day is as much of a “men’s day” as it is a “fathers’ day”. Many fathers will take the next day off of work and enjoy a short four-day vacation with their families.
In Mandarin Chinese, the pronunciation of the number 8 is bā which is very similar to bà, which means “Papa” or “father”. Father’s Day is widely – but unofficially – observed on the eighth day of the eighth month of the year (August 8), giving the day the nickname of “Bābā Day“.
Thais revere their king as the “Father of the Thai Nation” and so have extended his birthday, December 5, to become Thailand’s National Fathers’ Day. On this day, outstanding fathers are recognized with certificates and plaques of honor in a royal ceremony, and many public celebrations and events are held.
Earlier traditions included presenting one’s father or grandfather with a masculine Canna flower, but this is not a common practice today.
The modern Fathers’ Day holiday in the United States has its roots in Spokane, Washington. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd was inspired by the Mothers’ Day movement, and wanted to start a similar day to honor fathers. She was especially close to her father, a Civil War veteran who had raised six children alone after their mother died in childbirth of the sixth. The Spokane Ministerial Association and the local YMCA supported her efforts, and the first Fathers’ Day was observed on June 19, 1910. By 1924, President Calvin Coolidge was supportive of the idea of a national Fathers’ Day, but it wasn’t until 1972 that it became a nationally noted holiday.
Next: More About Dads