Fathers Day

On 4th September 1936 the Newcastle Herald wrote…

A new day for the Calendar is “Father’s Day,” September 6. Mothers’ Day has become very popular, and maybe “Father’s Day” will also become so, too!

It seem like that has indeed happened. Today in August, the shops in Australia are full of stuff for dads. The day in Australia, was officially gazetted as the first Sunday in September Australia in 1964.

Around The World.

Curiously in most of the western world, including the US and the UK, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June.

In most of Scandanavia, November was chosen to “maximise its commercial value and to increase sales during the pre-Christmas quiet season.” The only country who didn’t fall in line was Denmark. They forgot to inform the public about the date, so Father’s Day ended up on as an early June holiday.

The first Father’s Day in America was observed in the State of Washington on June 19, 1910. In Portugal, Spain and Italy, Father’s Day is celebrated on March 19th, – the Feast of St. Joseph, the patron saint of fathers. In Germany, Father’s Day is celebrated on the same date as Ascension Day – 40 days after Easter.

In Taiwan, Father’s Day is celebrated on August 8th because 8/8 sounds similar to in Chinese to the word ‘daddy’. This was also the date for Father’s day in China, during World War 2 when the government wanted to celebrate the soldiers who died and honour fathers in general. The date was later moved to the third Sunday in June and has largely been forgotten except for the expats who live there.

Why Not June Like The Majority of Others?

If you Google “holiday fatigue” you will see a lot of people suggest there is a problem with too many holidays in a row. We all need a time to recover from being bombarded with suggestions for things to buy. September is in the middle – about half way between Mothers day and  Christmas so that gives us a rest time and a time to reset out finances before another onslaught! Of course, we in Australia don’t have a Thanksgiving holiday in November or Halloween in October like the US, so we have this “spending gap.” So September make a whole lot of sense to sellers of socks and undies.

What are we celebrating?

So what exactly are we celebrating? Erma Bombeck, once wrote “One morning my father didn’t get up and go to work. He went to the hospital and died the next day. I hadn’t thought that much about him before. He was just someone who left and came home and seemed glad to see everyone at night. He opened the jar of pickles when no one else could. He was the only one in the house who wasn’t afraid to go into the basement by himself. He cut himself shaving, but no one kissed it or got excited about it. It was understood that when it rained, he got the car and brought it around to the door. When anyone was sick, he went out to get the prescription filled. He took lots of pictures … but he was never in them. Whenever I played house, the mother doll had a lot to do. I never knew what to do with the daddy doll, so I had him say, “I’m going off to work now” and threw him under the bed…  I didn’t know his leaving would hurt so much.” 1

I think its a truism that for many people, fathers are an important part of their life – but often they are “invisible”. The Fathering Project on their research page said…

  • Fathers matter;
  • Fathers self-efficacy and warmth in parenting are the most powerful predictors of children’s improved health, academic, social and emotional outcomes;
  • Children who have a father or father figure live with them throughout their life have better learning outcomes, general health, emotional well-being and fewer problem behaviours;  

So we are celebrating the positive impact fathers have on their kids and even if you didn’t notice them or for that matter if you don’t believe you had a great impact on your kids, the research tells us the opposite.  Your kids have better educational outcomes, are more emotionally stable and have better health because of your impact. There’s even evidence that suggests that the single largest determinant of how a child thinks of God is how they think of their father. Is it any wonder that some fathers feel a mixture of guilt and overwhelming responsibility on a day like this?

Fathers Bring a Blessing.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. We seem to have lost the art of understanding the blessing we can bring to our children.  Right through the narrative passages of the bible there are stories of fathers who bring a blessing to their children. In Genesis 27 there is the story of two brothers. One brother pretended to be the other so he could get the blessing that was due to his brother. He succeeded in his deception but that put a distance between him and his brother. So in that culture, for the brothers to have their fathers blessing was vitally important. All of these blessings seem to have been transferred by a ritual involving touch. The father touched the head of the child and said some words of blessing to the child.

You can bring a blessing to your children in the same way – even if they have left home long ago and began to plot their own course. You may not be able to give your children everything they deserve or even expect of you but you can still make a difference.  Sometimes it’s as simple as a spoken word, a touch, a look, a simple action that makes them feel good. Just something that says “you’re OK & I like being with you” or  something that communicates to our children and grandchildren that you love them and unconditionally accept them just the way they are! Whatever you decide to do, make sure you do it. If the thought of being that overt makes you shy away, you can do it quietly sometime.

Of course, one of the greatest things you can do for your kids or grandkids is to take them to church. I know some churches don’t deserve your attention but there are plenty of others who do. If the church you know about is not friendly to children or doesn’t help you find something positive in life each week, then find another one. There are so many good churches today that want to help you find the best way to live and add positive things to the life of your children or grandchildren. So begin your search for a church this weekend.

So here’s the clincher – if you are still breathing there is time to bring a blessing to your kids and make a positive difference to their lives. It’s not too late. You can begin today.


1 Erma Bombeck, The Ties that Bind … And Gag! [NY: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1987], p. 2

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