Posted on 10th June 2013
Who invented Father’s Day?
As this year's Father's Day approaches, we decided to find out where the whole tradition actually comes from. We also happened to discover some rather more unconventional ways other parts of the world celebrate good old dad. Read on to find out more...
By Tobias Chapple
First of all, mums have some reason to feel smug here: THEIR day was first. Yup, Mother's Day pre-dates Father's Day. By two years. Two whole long years where sons and daughters ignored their dads.
Both Father's Day and Mother's Day are American creations, thought up by a rather interesting lady called Anna Jarvis, and you can't talk about one without explaining the other. Anna Jarvis sparked things off by having a very personal and small memorial for her mother in 1907 after she passed away. During the memorial Anna announced that she would start a campaign to make Mother's Day a national holiday in her mother's honour and to celebrate mothers everywhere.
Mother's Day was very quickly a huge hit, with retailers immediately seeing the potential. While she was listening to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909, a Ms Sonora Louise Smart Dodd saw an opportunity to celebrate not just mothers but also fathers. And so, following in Anna Jarvis' footsteps, she campaigned to have a day for dads. Helped out by the YMCA, the first Father's Day was celebrated in 1910 and was...a bit of a flop. But it eventually caught on, with President Nixon establishing in 1972 that Father's Day should be observed nationwide on the third Sunday of June.
An older and more unconventional Father's Day celebration happens in Germany, specifically the northern part. Here they have a tradition of Weißwurstäquator where, rather than buying socks, ties and embarrassing joke cards, males both young and old pull wagons full of beer and food up a hill together.
This is an opportunity for male bonding and an excuse to drink, as well as a tradition that dates back to 17th century Ascension Day processions that would go to farmlands via rocky slopes. Not all German fathers feel that this is the best way to celebrate the day and a number will stay at home rather than rolling around mountain tops.
Thailand has a rather brilliant tradition too, with Father's Day celebrated on the same day as the current King's birthday, as he is father to all the nation. On this day - currently 5 December for King Rama IX - sons give their fathers a canna lily as this is considered a "manly" flower. They also used to wear yellow as this was the colour of Monday, the day their current King was born, but in 2007 their King left hospital on Father's Day wearing a pink blazer, so they now wear pink instead.
So on Sunday 16 June, don't give your dad a mouldy sock. Give him some kind of masculine flower - a venus fly trap maybe - or force him to carry the shopping trolley full of food up some hills as a bonding experience in honour of the German way. And don't let on to Mum that her day came first - you'll never hear the end of it!