Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June, this year falling on the 20th. While usually more low-key than Mother’s Day, the sentiment is much the same.
The earliest known record of Father's Day observance is a carved clay tablet dating to almost 4,000 years ago. A boy named Elmesu carved a Father's Day message wishing his Babylonian father good health and a long life.
In many countries, where the Catholic Church has had an important influence on the culture, Father's Day is celebrated on St. Joseph's Day (March 19). In recent times, it has become more of a secular celebration to reflect the increased diversity of the people living there.
History Chip is all about getting a broader picture of the world around us so this year we are taking a look at Father’s Day celebrations across the globe.
In the U.S., Father’s Day was founded by Sonora Smart Dodd, the daughter of American Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, in 1910. Upon hearing of the newly recognized Mother’s Day, Dodd decided that fathers deserved similar recognition and approached the Ministerial Alliance in Spokane suggesting a day honoring fathers.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson sent a telegraph to the Alliance praising the Father’s Day services, and fifty years later, in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.
In Germany, Vatertag (Father’s Day) coincides with Ascension Day and occurs on a Thursday in May. It is a national holiday and men take full advantage of the day off by drinking copious amounts of beer, riding bikes and generally acting irresponsibly. However, the medieval origins of the holiday were much more pious, marked by religious ceremonies honoring Gott, den Vater (God, the father).
In Thailand, Father’s Day is celebrated on December 5th to honor King Bhumibol, the honorary father of Thailand. Children gift canna flowers, believed to be sacred plants with protective qualities, to their fathers.
In Finland, fathers are treated to breakfast in bed and receive homemade gifts. Father’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in November and as of 2020 it is recognized as an official flag day with the Finnish flag flown on government buildings.
In Nepal, Father’s Day is celebrated near the end of the summer and forms part of the ‘Gokarna Aunsi’ celebrations also worshipping the cow-eared incarnation of Shiva. Crowds flock to the Shiva temple in Gokarna, Kathmandu, where they bathe and make offerings in the new moon day, ‘Amavasya.’ Fathers also receive gifts as expressions of gratitude from their daughters and sons.
In South Africa, Father’s Day is also celebrated on the third Sunday in June. Many South African families enjoy the day by going out for a picnic, fishing, or a meal in a restaurant. Father’s Day is seen as an opportunity to celebrate and to focus on the important role that fathers play in nurturing children and building a strong society.
It’s not surprising to learn that in Russia, Father’s Day has a military aspect to it. Each year on February 23rd, Defender of the Fatherland Day is marked by parades honoring men and celebrating the Russian Armed Forces. Fathers also usually receive gifts from their children and partners.
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