Everyone’s got a dad, and almost all cultures pick a day on which to celebrate them. Different cultures celebrate in different ways, some stooped in ancient tradition and others driven by modern consumerism.
Here are three of our favourites:
- Father’s Day in Germany is called Männertag or Herrentag (“men’s day” or “gentlemen’s day”) and it is traditional for groups of men to go hiking, dragging behind them carts of beer, wine and other provisions. This is rooted in the Ascension Day processions of Christians in the area in the 18th Century, when local men would be ferried by cart to the town square where he with the most offspring would be awarded a large ham. Although the religious component was lost over the years, the practice continued, morphing into what many a German gent uses today as a great excuse to get drunk with his mates!
- In Thailand, Father’s Day is celebrated on the same day as the king’s birthday (similarly, Mother’s Day is on the queen’s). The birthday of the current king, Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), is on December 5 and that of the current queen, Sirikit, is on August 12. Traditionally, Thais celebrate by giving their patriarch a canna flower. People also wear yellow to show respect for the king (yellow being the colour for Monday, the day on which he was born). Many congregate in Sanam Luang park in front of the palace in Bangkok for his annual speech, lighting candles and declaring their faith. The ceremony became popular in the 1980s as Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda worked to promote the royal family and it continues to be observed nationwide to this day.
- The French have celebrated fathers day since the Middle Ages, when it was celebrated on March 19, the day of Saint Joseph (the foster-father of Jesus). This ancient religious festival was slowly forgotten, but a day to celebrate fatherhood was reimagined and reinstated in the 20th century as a flamboyant marketing scheme by a Breton brand of lighters. Flaminaire sold the first gasoline lighters in 1908. They were luxury items in their day and, since most men smoked, quickly became a traditional gift on Father’s Day, or Fête des Pères as it’s called in France. This new, commercialised celebration lands on the third Sunday in June – the same day as in the USA, UK and many other countries around the world – and was institutionalised in France in 1952. Although it’s doubtful many fathers still receive fancy lighters on Fête des Pères these days, gift-giving remains standard and children now often make paper ties and bowties to give as presents. People give roses too, which are a symbol of Father’s Day in France with red ones given to the living and white ones placed on the graves of the dead.
If the above traditions seem a little odd for your dad, maybe he’ll simply enjoy relaxing at home in front of the finale of the US Open. Or, if he’s been especially good this year, maybe he deserves something extra special – like membership to most luxury sock club in the world! Either way, we each only get one Dad – so make sure he feels special this Father’s Day.
Written by Dominic Dowbekin.
Photography by Nathalie Thery