Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is a traditional day of celebration around the world. Not every country celebrates, but more than 40 do so each year. The most popular date globally for the holiday is the third Sunday in June, though many countries celebrate at other times of the year. Throughout the world, a common way to celebrate the day is to spend time with the fathers or father figures in our lives, sharing a meal, and offering cards and gifts. Overall, there isn’t as much hoopla for Father’s Day when compared to Mother’s Day, but some countries do have some big festivities around the day.
In the United States, it took a long time for the holiday to catch on. Congress resisted the notion of making the holiday official, fearing it would become over-commercialized like Mother’s Day. It wasn’t until 1966 that President Lyndon B. Johnson made the first official proclamation for the day. President Nixon made it an official holiday six years later. In the US, in addition to gathering, food, and gifts, sports are a big part of the day for many men. The US Open golf tournament ends on Father’s Day and the FireKeepers Casino 400 NASCAR race is often held on the holiday.
In Mexico, there is usually food and music along with gift giving. Fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and other important men are celebrated. Many also participate in a special race in Mexico City, a 21-kilometer run called “Carrera Día del Padre 21K Bosque de Tlalpan,” which essentially translates to Father’s Day Race. After the race, there is a carnival of sorts with fun for the whole family. In Germany, it’s traditional for groups of men to go on a hiking tour where they pull wagons containing food and drink. Getting drunk is a pretty typical part of the German Father’s Day tradition. Not surprisingly, this shows up in a big uptick in alcohol-related accidents on this day.
Traditions in Africa are similar to those in the United States. Among the African countries that celebrate the holiday are Mozambique, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Sudan, and Somalia. Father’s Day is typically not considered a public holiday. The day is about gathering with important men, usually around a meal. In South Africa, much of the day is often spent fishing in hopes of catching something to feast on for dinner.
Happy Father’s Day!