CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
Father’s Day is celebrated around the world, but on different dates. The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and over sixty other countries celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June. Only Germany celebrates it on Ascension Day, a religious holiday that falls on a floating Thursday forty days after Easter. In 2015 when this article was written, that means that Mother’s Day (Muttertag) and Father’s Day (Vaterta) fall less than a week apart, but sometimes they can fall in different months.
The German traditions for Muttertag are very similar to American traditions for Mother’s Day: children and fathers pamper mom with flowers, breakfast and other kind deeds or gifts. But the German Vatertag traditions are not quite the same!
German men who are not fathers can take heart and take part in the celebrations. It’s not only Vatertag, but it’s also known as Männertag (Men’s Day) or Herrentag (Gentlemen’s Day).
German fathers were traditionally honored on Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt). Fathers were carted into town centers on wooden wagons. The mayor would give the father with the most children a prize: usually a ham. Over time the tradition changed and the men started taking their own picnics outside of the towns. The wagons grew smaller and the what goes better with a ham picnic than a beir?
So today in Germany expect to see groups of men on hiking trips with a wagon (Bollerwagen) full of beer and other beverages. Since Ascension Day is a legal German holiday, many Germans (including the men with a hangover) will take Friday off, making it a four day weekend.
Interestingly to a non-German mindset, Father’s Day is not a day for dads to spend with their kids, but rather a day for dads to hang out with other guys and forget about their fatherly responsibilities. But no one can argue with this: Germans know how to party. So Prost! to all fathers on Vaterstag, and whatever way you choose to celebrate, please be safe!
Note: Click on photo for credit.