At least in the US and the UK, this Sunday is Father’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate all of the dads in your life. But have you ever wondered where the holiday came from? Or how it’s celebrated in other countries? Here are 10 facts about Father’s Day around the world.
Father’s Day wasn’t always celebrated on the 3rd Sunday in June (and in some countries, it still isn’t).
In fact, in Catholic Europe, it was originally celebrated on 19 March, which is the feast day of St. Joseph. The first Father’s Day to be celebrated in June was held at a YMCA in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910. A young woman named Sonora Smart Dodd started the tradition to honour her father, a single dad who raised six children on his own.
Of course, the holiday didn’t gain nationwide traction until she convinced the manufacturers of products like neckties and men’s clothing and tobacco pipes to get on board. But it’s nice to know that for once, behind the commercialisation, there’s a sweet story.
The American date spread around the world, and today, at least 86 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June. Portugal, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Honduras and 7 other countries celebrate on St. Joseph’s Day, March 19. Other countries have their own days – for example, Thailand celebrates on 5 December, the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
In Germany, Father’s Day is celebrated with beer and pork.
German “Father’s Day” (Vatertag) is celebrated on Ascension Day. German men traditionally celebrate by hiking out into the woods with copious amounts of beer and ham (along with other traditional German foods).
France owes its Father’s Day celebration to a company that manufactured cigarette lighters.
The holiday was introduced in 1949 in France by Flaminaire to support an advertising campaign for their lighters. They’d seen how menswear retailers latched on to the holiday in America and wanted some of that sweet holiday sales action for themselves. Their slogan was “Our fathers told us, for father’s day, they all want a Flaminaire,” and the holiday became official in 1952.
Today, Father’s Day is celebrated in France much as it is elsewhere, with gifts and cards.
In Taiwan, Father’s is usually celebrated on 8 August.
That’s because, in Mandarin, the number 8 (爸) is pronounced “ba.” So, “8/8,” or the eighth day of the eighth month, is pronounced “ba ba,” which sounds quite similar to the Mandarin word for “Dad” (爸爸 or bàba.”)
In Thailand, men get flowers on Father’s Day.
In Western cultures, it’s not common for men to receive gifts of flowers. But on Thailand’s version of Father’s Day, men are given canna lilies. Thai culture considers cannas a “masculine” flower.”
Italy goes all out for Father’s Day.
Italy sees your hastily-chosen tie in a box and raises you a donkey race. Yes, that’s right, some parts of Italy celebrate Father’s Day with donkey races, parades and bonfires. Of course, that’s mostly because they celebrate Father’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day simultaneously. The donkey races, for example, are meant to celebrate Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem.
In Mexico, there’s a Father’s Day footrace.
The “Carrera Día del Padre 21K Bosque de Tlalpa” covers 21 kilometers in Mexico City.
Bulgarians celebrate Father’s Day twice.
In Bulgaria, there are two Father’s Days. First, there’s the traditional celebration on St. Joseph’s Day, which is 26 December in the Orthodox calendar. Then, they also celebrate the American version, on the third Sunday in June.
There’s no Father’s Day in South Korea.
However, there is a “Parent’s Day.” Parent’s Day happens on May 8th each year, and children celebrate by giving their parents’ carnations.
Father’s Day Around the World: How to say “Happy Father’s Day” in 14 languages
Need to wish someone “Happy Father’s Day” in another language? We’ve got you covered: Here it is in 14 different languages:
Irish: Lá na nAthaireacha faoi shona daoibh
Welsh: Sul y tadau hapus
French: Bonne fête Papa!
German: Alles Gute zum Vatertag! or Frohen Vatertag!
Italian: Buona festa del papà!
Spanish: Feliz día del padre
Polish: Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji Dnia Ojca
Dutch: Fijne Vaderdag or Prettige vaderdag
Portuguese: Feliz dia dos pais!
Finnish: Hyvää isänpäivää
Swedish: Grattis på farsdagen!
Korean: 어버이 날을 축하합니다
Thai: สุขสันต์วันพ่อ (Sook-san-wan-por)
Slovak: Všetko najlepšie ku dňu otcov
As you can see, Father’s Day is a commercial holiday in many countries around the world. But that doesn’t mean that Father’s Day themed marketing that works in one country will necessarily work in another. The timing of the celebration varies, and so can the customs and language attached to it. So, your marketing and advertisements may need to follow suit. Seeking advice and assistance from experts rooted in the cultures and countries in question is the best way to ensure your marketing message remains effective and intact.
At K International, our team of linguists, designers and bilingual copywriters are here to help. Check out the language services we offer and feel free to contact us!
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!