Father's Day in Other Countries
Father's Day in the United States began as a way to honor all dads and one dad in particular, Civil War veteran William Smart. The holiday was originally held on June 5th, Smart's birthday, but was quickly moved to the third Sunday in June. Historically, however, Father's Day has been celebrated in Catholic countries as St. Joseph's Day since the Middle Ages. In the 20th century, many other countries adopted our tradition of celebrating fathers as well as the date for Father's Day. About 40 countries celebrate Father's Day today though they don't all celebrate in June and they don't all celebrate in the same way. These five countries have different traditions.
In Denmark, as in other countries, Father's Day coincides with another national holiday, Constitution Day. Constitution Day commemorates the day the Danish Constitution was signed in 1849. Workplaces and shops typically close early, and political rallies are held.
In the early 20th century, the Scandinavian countries adopted the American Father's Day which was held on June 5th at the time. Though the other Scandinavian countries moved Father's Day to November, Denmark failed to notify the public and press of the change so Father's Day remains on June 5th and is celebrated with Constitution Day.
In Germany, what we know as Father's Day has been celebrated for many, many centuries, possibly since around 68 CE. Why? Over there, the holiday is actually known as Ascension Day, a religious holiday celebrated by Catholics and other Christians. Ascension Day commemorates the 39th day after Christ's resurrection. It is widely believed in the Christian faith that this is the day He ascended to heaven.
So how does a secular celebration come from a religious one in Germany? In the 18th century in rural Germany, prizes were awarded to fathers after the Ascension Day parades. This tradition developed into Father's Day which is celebrated the same day as Ascension Day.
Father's day in Nepal is celebrated in late August or early September. The day pays homage to fathers, deceased or alive, as thanks for the care and love they give their families. Men honor their deceased fathers at holy sites or rivers and give Sida, a holy mixture of rice grains and other foods. Families and communities also celebrate in the morning or evening according to their community's traditions.
Father's Day in Russia is more commonly known as Defender of the Fatherland Day and Men's Day. Though the holiday was established to celebrate veterans and those serving in the Russian Armed Forces, women also traditionally gave small gifts to the men in their lives on this day. Parades are a common way to celebrate, and in Moscow, in a ceremony attended by many politicians, wreaths are laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. February 23rd is the day that Russia celebrates their men. A movement started in 2013 has seen a large group of bikers from the Urals and Siberia travel across Russia visiting orphanages and children's hospitals to spread the message of the importance of good relationships, taking care of family, and being responsible men. This group proposes a separate Father's Day to be held each year in October.
In Thailand, Father's Day is currently held on December 5th, King Bhumipol Adulyadej's birthday. The date will change when there is a new king as Father's Day in Thailand os always held on the current king's birthday. People wear yellow, the king's color, and give canna flowers to their fathers and grandfathers. Many also gather throughout the country to feed monks in the morning. As a national holiday, the entire country celebrates further by decorating homes and workplaces with flags and lights. People gather in their town's hall or main street to light candles and sing songs, and fireworks light the night sky.
Bonus! Saint Joseph's Day
Several countries celebrate Father's Day on March 19th, the feast day of St Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary. The day is often celebrated with parades and a feast. Because this day often occurs during Lent, it is customary for the feast to remain meatless. Fava beans are blessed, and celebrants wear red. Countries that celebrate Father's Day on St Joseph's Day include Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Bolivia, Croatia, Honduras, and Mozambique.