Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Father's have changed a lot over the last few decades. Classic radio shows such as "Father Knows Best" and "Ozzie and Harriot" depicted dads as the strong hard working man who always knew the best way to handle every situation. They occasionally made errors but overall they were the perceived head of the household and ultimate disciplinarian (with a little gentle prodding from their loving wife!)

Television shows such as "Leave It To Beaver", "Make Room For Daddy" and "My Three Sons" continued this tradition. For many men these fathers were their image of what fatherhood was all about. They went to work while the wife stayed home and looked after the house and children. When they got home from a "hard' day at work, their dinner would be waiting, they'd spend a little time with the kids and sometimes have to follow up on mom's proverbial "wait till your father gets home".

In the 1960's and 1970's that image of fatherhood pretty much went the way of the dodo bird. Fathers were becoming much more hands on. They were in the delivery room, changing diapers, getting up in the night with the kids and generally becoming much more useful.

Father's Day has actually been around for 100 years. The first US celebration of the day was in Washington state on June 19, 1908 and in Fairmont West Virginia on July 5, 1908. The Washington celebration is believed to have been inspired by the daughter of a Civil War vet, who was a single father raising six children on his own. The West Virginia celebration was believed to have been a recognition of fatherhood and in particular a tribute to the many fathers who were among 361 miners killed in a nearby mining accident the previous December.

The day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June in more than 45 countries around the world including the USA and Canada. More than 30 other countries also celebrate a version of Father's Day at some point during the year.

Germany doesn't actually have a specific celebration of the day, but they do have something similar that I'm sure most men would approve of. It is called "Mannertag" or "Men's Day" and is celebrated on Ascension Day which is the Thursday, forty days after Easter. In a tradition called "Herrentag", a males-only group go on a hiking tour pulling one or more small wood wagons (by man power) loaded with local wine, beer, meats, vegetables, eggs etc.

Here in Manitoba Father's Day is the annual running of the Manitoba Marathon. This year is the 30Th Anniversary of the race and organizers are expecting 14,000 runners to take part in the full, half and relay marathons. The money raised through pledges and donations goes to LACE IT UP a charity for Manitobans living with an intellectual disability.

Father's Day doesn't get nearly the attention that Mother's Day does, nor do people spend as much on dear ol' dad. So whether you get dad clothes, sports equipment, tools, electronics or just a card - make sure you tell the fathers in your life how much you love and appreciate them.

Happy Father's Day!


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