Happy Father’s Day 2016

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I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone that today is Father’s Day in many countries around the world. Many of us will have been out there this past week, hunting around the shops for gifts or making last-minute bookings at restaurants and such like. Well, this year, we’re all heading out for an evening meal in Lincoln. Our youngest son is once again abroad – for work! – this time in sunny Antigua, so he’ll be missed, yet again.  😦

Last year I wrote about the various customs attached to this day, and how it all started over there in the U.S. so, as nothing has changed about that, I thought I’d just repost it, with a few words more relevant to this year.

This image, courtesy of Pixabay, is particularly applicable to my husband, who was a motorbike fanatic in his youth – thankfully, before I met him!

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In the United Kingdom, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June, in keeping with the United States, where the custom originated, and many other parts of the world. This is in contrast to Mothers’ Day, which has a very different history in the U.S. and the U.K. (Happy Mother’s Day) and is celebrated on different dates.

Father’s Day is a day to honour fathers and father figures, including grandfathers and fathers-in-law. Many people make a special effort to visit their fathers or to send them a card or gifts. As for Mothers’ Day in Britain, children spend time making their own cards, and gifts tend to be similar to those many dads get for Christmas – socks, slippers, ties, items of clothing or perhaps a mug with a slogan like ‘The World’s Best Dad’ or simply ‘Dad’ written on it. T-shirts, mouse mats, bags and T-shirts with photographs of the children printed on them are also reasonably popular. As for giving flowers, in the U.S. fathers were traditionally given the gift of white or red roses. The rose is the official flower for Father’s Day.

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Wearing a red rose signifies a living father, while a white one represents a deceased father. I haven’t heard of roses being given here in the U.K. but that doesn’t mean the custom isn’t observed at all.

For some dads in the U.K. Father’s Day can be a day for being taken out and treated to a pint or two down at the pub. Some families make more of things and the ‘treat’ could be a meal out somewhere special, or one of the popular ‘Father’s Day’ experiences, like driving a rally car, tank, fire engine, or even an aeroplane. Some children pay for Dad to have a golf, football or cricket lesson with a celebrity coach.

A father holding a necktie cookie on Father's Day. Author: Dean Michaud, originally posted on Flickr, terms compatible with Commons.

A father holding a necktie cookie on Father’s Day. Author: Dean Michaud, originally posted on Flickr, terms compatible with Commons.

There are two versions regarding the origins of Father’s Day in the United States. Some people maintain that it was first introduced in 1910 by a woman called Sonora Smart Dodd who was inspired by the work of Anna Jarvis, the woman who had pushed for Mother’s Day celebrations. Sonora’s father raised six children by himself after the death of their mother, which was uncommon at that time, as many widowers placed their children in the care of others or quickly married again. So Sonora felt that her father deserved recognition for what he’d done. The first Father’s Day was held in June 1910, and was officially recognised as a holiday in 1972 by President Nixon.

Sonora Smart Dodd. Image from Wikipedia.

Sonora Smart Dodd. Image from Wikipedia.

Others in the U.S. say that Grace Golden Clayton from Fairmont, West Virginia, should be credited with the idea of Father’s Day, after she suggested a day to celebrate fatherhood in 1908, following the anguish of the Monongah mine disaster in December 1907. Officially, 362 men died, in that disaster, 250 of them fathers, leaving more than a thousand children without a dad. It was America’s worst mining ­accident. Most of the men were Italian migrants and the actual death toll is estimated at nearer 500.

Grace Golden Clayton, whose father was killed in the tragedy, suggested a service of commemoration for this lost generation to the pastor of her local Methodist chapel, and the first Father’s Day took place on July 5, 1908. But Grace’s idea didn’t spread outside this isolated mining settlement. It took off two years later, after Sonora Smart Dodd’s campaign – only to fall into disuse soon after until the 1930s, when it slowly gained official recognition. President Richard Nixon proclaimed it a national holiday in 1972.

I must confess that until I looked this up last year, I didn’t know the origins of Father’s Day in the U.S. I knew the custom started in America but, like many other people, I assumed it was either another money making racket on behalf of the gift and card industry, or a way of keeping things equal with Mother’s Day – which is partly true.

In our house, the children usually come round with presents around lunchtime. The usual gifts from our sons is some type of malt whisky, although there will often be a box of chocolates as well. The girls, Louise and Nicola, tend to go for something from the Garden Centre – or vouchers for him to spend there, as he’s an avid gardener. Our youngest son, who works in various places abroad, generally sends some kind of plant via Interflora or suchlike. We have lots of  plants and flower in our garden that started life in wicker baskets, and they’re doing very nicely.

One last note or two…

In Germany, Father’s Day (Vatertag) or Men’s Day (Männertag)  is celebrated differently from other parts of the world. Groups of men go off into the woods with a wagon of beer, wines and meats. Heavy drinking is common on that day and traffic accidents tend to rise, causing police and emergency services to be on high alert. Some right-wing and feminist groups have asked for the banning of the holiday. Father’s day with a kick, I’d say!

A Hiking Tour on Father’s Day. Author: Steffen Gebbhart at Wikimedia. Public Domain

In China, Father’s Day used to be on August 8. This was because the Chinese word for 8 is ‘ba’ and the colloquial word for father is ‘ba-ba’. It has now been moved to the third week in June to keep in line with other countries.

Refs:

http://www.findmeagift.co.uk/fathers-day-gifts/history.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father%27s_Day

About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
This entry was posted in Customs and Traditions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Happy Father’s Day 2016

  1. Lovely interesting post Millie. Father’s Day here is much like elsewhere. Shops have been flooded with mom’s and children buying dad a gift, especially yesterday, the lunch out whatever for today. Here in our home with our small family, we are happy to stay at home, with my dad now passed it is sad, as I would love for him to be here and share this beautiful day with us. My hubby was spoiled with gifts this morning from the girls, I made a big breakfast, lunch will be light and then I am doing the famous Sunday roast for dinner (with dessert).
    Enjoy this lovely day with your beautiful family Millie. x

    • milliethom says:

      It sounds as though you’ll have a lovely day, Lynne. We usually all eat at home, too, just as we do at Christmas and other occasions. This year is a change for us, suggested by the girls. Both mine and Nick’s dads have long since passed and I agree, it is sad, and Father’s Day always brings them more to mind – just as Mothers’ Day does with our mums.
      I bet your Sunday meal is far better that anything we could have in a restaurant, too. 🙂

  2. Well my son forgot mine…..!

  3. Millie, Thank you for this. Your research is always right on target. I wasn’t quite sure if other countries had similar days, but Germany was a true revelation.

  4. DG MARYOGA says:

    Your post greatly honoured all Fathers worldwide,Millie!You have extensively covered the origins of this special day and you pleasantly described different customs and traditions that take place in order to honour Father’s figure.Even small gestures can convey the children’s feelings and appreciation to their Father and make him feel very special and loved.Nothing better than a beautiful rose or a bottle of whisky … We celebrated the day in our country house by the seaside where nice surprises awaited my husband and my dad.It was a hot day but we had lots of fun,happiness and tears of joy.I hope you enjoyed your evening meal with your family while the flowers from abroad made you feel that the youngest son was present too … I spotted your post on Twitter from my tab,R/Ted it,I am so happy,I didn’t miss it.All the best to you & yours 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you for liking my post, Doda, and for the R/T. I really appreciate that. We do celebrate Fathers Day in our house, but both mine and Nick’s dads passed away some years ago. As you say, just like mothers, all fathers deserve recognition for the work they do and sacrifices they make to give their families a good start in life.
      I hope you had a wonderful day at your house by the sea. It sounds like total bliss to me. I was born by the sea (although the Irish Sea hardly compares to your lovely blue waters). Have a wonderful week and enjoy the sunshine. 🙂

      • DG MARYOGA says:

        My pleasure Millie!It’s sad though that your dad and your father-in-law departed for the non-return journey.You and Nick should wear “white roses … “,you so nicely mentioned this distinction in your post.It doesn’t matter if we here,or you in the UK apply it,it sounds so thoughful and nice.The blue sea was dead calm and one with the blues of the sky,there was no apparent horizon.Have a splendid day,my friend 🙂

      • milliethom says:

        Thank you, Doda. What a wonderful description of a perfect day. I can really picture the sea and sky merging into one. 🙂

      • DG MARYOGA says:

        Thank you for appreciating it Millie 🙂

  5. inesephoto says:

    Such a wonderful post, Millie! I was thinking about all the great fathers I know, and there are many, of all ages. Praise to them!

  6. Such an interesting post Millie! I had no idea about many of these traditions and facts! xx

  7. irinadim says:

    It was interesting to read about the origins of Father’ Day. In Australia, Down Under and Upside Down, Father’s Day is in September, our first spring month. Mother’s Day is in May. Glad to hear you spent a lovely Father’s Day with your children. 🙂

    • milliethom says:

      Yes, we all have different dates, but the sentiment behind these special days is just the same. Where would we be without our wonderful parents? They deserve every recognition for what they do. (I love your description of Australia! Lol)
      Hope all is well with you, Irina.

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