Why do we celebrate father’s day?

3 Jun 2020

Events Father's Day Gift Experiences

All around the world, Father’s day is celebrated to honour the men in our life. But is it celebrated in the same way, and does it have the same meaning for everyone?

Every year we rush to find the perfect Father’s day present and, although we always remember it, it seems to have less of an impact than other festivals and celebrations. Mother’s day has some biblical precedence – Mothering Sunday is held on the fourth Sunday of Lent, honouring the Virgin Mary – but the link between Father’s day and religious celebration is more abstract. The origins of Father’s day are less well-known, so you wouldn’t be criticised for asking where it all started.

The origins of Father’s day

Father’s day dates back as far as the Middle Ages, although this festival was quite different to what we understand it to be today. Catholics in Europe celebrated the feasting day of Saint Joseph – known as ‘Nourisher of the Lord’ – on March 19. This was where they paid their respects to Joseph, stepdad of Jesus, by honouring the fatherly duties that Joseph carried out.

Mary and Jospeh and Jesus painting of Catholic picture

This celebration was brought to the Americas when the Spanish and Portugese migrated there during the 17th and 18th centuries, carrying their Catholic beliefs with them. Whilst devout Catholics might continue to celebrate the original meaning behind Father’s day, those who celebrate Father’s day out of a more emotional motive might be surprised to hear how the non-religious celebration started.

In 1908, the daughter of a miner named Grace Golden Clayton decided that a day should be set to celebrate fathers, after she lost her father in a mining accident which killed 361 men. After suggesting it to her pastor, the first non-Catholic celebration of the day took place in West Virginia that same year.

However, it wasn’t until 1913 that Congress announced the third Sunday of June would be the official day to celebrate it. And, this wasn’t legally binding until President Richard Nixon wrote Father’s day into the law in 1972.

Father’s day celebrations today

Some countries haven’t followed America’s lead, and continue to celebrate Father’s day in their own way. Italy and Spain have kept the date closest to the date enshrined in the Middle Ages: Festa del Papà and Día del Padre are celebrated on March 19th. Brazil marks this special day on the second Sunday in August, and Australia and New Zealand have their own version, celebrating their fathers on the first Sunday in September.

Perhaps this shows the distancing of modern day society from original religious celebrations: whereas Italy and Spain – predominantly Catholic countries – have kept the date close to its origin, more pluralistic societies have strayed away from the biblical origin of Father’s day.

Catholic church with Jesus and crucifix

Indeed, most countries have followed America’s example, and in England the date is the same as that of the US. This shows that, for those who aren’t devout Catholics, this celebratory day is fairly modern, and has more of an emotional motive behind it than a religious one. For many, Father’s day is just a chance to honour fatherhood and display love and affection with gifts for Dad.

Why is father’s day different in other countries?

Spain and Italy have kept the celebration date the same as its alleged origin, suggesting that, for these countries, Father’s day still has biblical precedence. It takes place during Lent – a period of fasting, lasting 40 days – and the holiday is typically a feast containing no meat.

In Canada and America, the celebration tends to not have any religious meaning behind it. Instead they wear roses, symbolising their love and affection for their fathers. In Australia, it is common to have a celebratory breakfast with loved ones, and in South Africa some go out for a picnic or fishing.

father's day fishing trip for father's day events

Surprisingly, this tradition has recently been picked up in India, where those in India mark the event by expressing gratitude for their fathers. Although this is celebrated in the same way as that of the UK and the US, awareness around the festival is much greater in large towns and cities, as opposed to remote villages. This is because of increased internet access around the world, which has resulted in the spread of some popular Western celebrations.

How to celebrate Father’s day

No matter how seriously you take Father’s day, giving a small token of your affection can really go a long way. Carefully considering what his likes and dislikes are shows that you’ve put some thought and effort behind your gesture.

If you’re searching for Father’s day gift ideas then look no further – we offer a wide range of treats, sure to impress even the pickiest person. If he likes a drink, then our Cocoa Beer uses the roasted shell of the cocoa bean to create a malty taste with bitter notes of chocolate – he’ll never look at chocolate and beer in the same way.

For a treat which will last a little longer, The Hamper for Him is for those who appreciate both good quality chocolate and beer. We’ve infused two malty beers with roasted cocoa shells, and paired them with a selection of treats, from a chocolate selection box to a deeply dunkable hazelnut chocolate spread.

For a more extravagant gift, The Classic Chocolate Cabinet is a dramatic showcase of taste adventure. With a range of 25 different flavours, this cabinet is one that will excite every time it is pulled open. No matter how you choose to celebrate Father’s day, going that extra mile can really make the day all the more memorable for that special man in your life – happy Father’s day from all the Hotel Chocolat team!

If you know a dad-to-be, welcome them into fatherhood with our Congratulations Message Box, containing our most popular recipes, filled with flavours designed to please. This miniature box is a small token, but one that can go a long way.

No matter where you are in the world, it is important to set aside a certain date to celebrate the man in your life. From all the Hotel Chocolat team – happy Father’s day!