In the United States, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. While many other countries also celebrate it on that day, including Argentina, Canada, France and Japan, some do not. They celebrate their version of Father’s Day on other dates.

In Sicily, Father’s Day is celebrated on March 19 as St. Joseph’s Day. The Roman Catholic feast day is believed to be the birthday of St. Joseph, stepfather of Jesus and husband of Mary. During the famine in Sicily, people prayed to St. Joseph to bring them a successful crop. Eventually, the famine came to an end, and in their gratitude, people promised to make an annual offering of their most prized possession, food, to St. Joseph.

Today in Sicily, the faithful erect St. Joseph tables and decorate them with lacy tablecloths, votive candles and lily blossom stalks. They then fill the tables with elaborate foods like breads, cakes, cookies, pasta and fish. A priest blesses the tables and a statue of St. Joseph presides over them. Bread and fava beans, which are said to bring good luck and saved the Sicilians from starvation, are served to anyone who visits the tables. It is believed that as long as St. Joseph’s bread is kept in the home, a family will never starve.

In Germany, Father’s Day or “Vatertag” is celebrated on Ascension Day, the Thursday 40 days after Easter. Vatertag started in the Middle Ages as a religious procession honoring “Gott, den Vater” on Ascension Day. It remained a family day to celebrate fathers until the 19th century when it reappeared in Berlin as an alcoholic celebration. In eastern Germany, the holiday is called “Herrentag” or Gentlemen’s Day, and while there still may be drinking on that day, the overboard drinking is a thing of the past. Traditional celebrations involved men on a hiking tour pulling one or more small wagons containing beer or wine and regional food like blood sausage, liverwurst, eggs and vegetables.

In Thailand, Father’s Day is celebrated on December 5, the birthday of King Bhumidol Adulyadej, who many considered to be the people’s father. King Bhumidol Adulyadej is the longest-serving monarch in Thailand’s history, having ascended to the throne on June 9, 1946. In celebration of the king’s birthday, homes and public structures are elaborately decorated with mostly yellow flags and lights. The Grand Palace and Ratchadamnoen Avenue are adorned with thousands of flowers. Fireworks and religious ceremonies are held throughout the country to celebrate and pray for the king’s happiness and continued good health.

December 5 is also the day when everyone expresses their gratitude to fathers throughout the country for the roles they play in family and society. In 1980, the president of the Volunteers and Educational Promotion Association, Khunying Neutip Samarasute, proclaimed December 5 National Father’s Day and the organizing committee chose canna as the symbol of the day.

These Father’s Day celebrations may be a little more elaborate than some. However, in some way, they all show fathers how much they are loved and respected.


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