Father’s Day, like many of the modern day celebrations we know and love, is an American import. But it wasn’t a poor dad somewhere feeling left out after yet another Mother’s Day passed by, like you might imagine it would be.
In fact, it was one grateful daughter in Spokane, Washington, in the early twentieth century, who campaigned for the creation of a day to recognise and celebrate the fathers of the world. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd campaigned hard after her father raised her and her 8 siblings, and eventually got her wish for an annual Father’s Day when, in 1924, President Coolidge declared the third Sunday in June the official date.
But as with most traditions, the observance isn’t followed in the same manner around the world. So how do other nations celebrate Father’s Day?
The tradition for honouring dads might actually be related to the centuries-old celebration of Saint Joseph’s Day on March 19th, recognised in both France and Spain. In France, recent history links modern Father’s Day to a company marketing lighters as gifts for dads who smoked.
Mexico has a long and proud history of celebrations, and they try to pull out all the stops for Father’s Day too. Celebrations are filled with food and music, while some participate in a 21 kilometre race through Mexico City called the ‘Carrera Dia Padre 21K Bosque de Tlalpan’.
Germany really break the mould for Father’s Day. On the 40th day of Easter, organised hikes and gatherings with plenty of food and alcohol help to commemorate dads across the country.
The Russian equivalent of what we know as Father’s Day involves a celebration stemming from a military commemoration for all men. February 23rd, Defender of the Fatherland Day, sees parades by the Russian Armed Forces as well as the giving of small gifts to the men by the women in their lives.
Brazil’s Father’s Day celebrations are not unlike our traditions, though they do celebrate the day on the second Sunday in August instead. This is in honour of St. Joachim, said to be the father of Mary. He is also the patron saint of fathers and grandfathers.
In South Korea they do things a little differently. Instead of specific days for each parent, they celebrate Parent’s Day on May 8th. Personally, we prefer having a day all to ourselves!