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Father’s Day Around The World

At least in the US  and the UK, this Sunday is Father’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate all of the dads in your life. But have you ever wondered where the holiday came from? Or how it’s celebrated in other countries? Here are 10 facts about Father’s Day around the world.

Father’s Day wasn’t always celebrated on the 3rd Sunday in June (and in some countries, it still isn’t).

In fact, in Catholic Europe, it was originally celebrated on 19 March, which is the feast day of St. Joseph. The first Father’s Day to be celebrated in June was held at a YMCA in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910. A young woman named Sonora Smart Dodd started the tradition to honour her father, a single dad who raised six children on his own.

Of course, the holiday didn’t gain nationwide traction until she convinced the manufacturers of products like neckties and men’s clothing and tobacco pipes to get on board. But it’s nice to know that for once, behind the commercialisation, there’s a sweet story.

The American date spread around the world, and today, at least 86 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June.  Portugal, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Honduras and 7 other countries celebrate on St. Joseph’s Day, March 19. Other countries have their own days – for example, Thailand celebrates on 5 December, the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

In Germany, Father’s Day is celebrated with beer and pork.

German “Father’s Day” (Vatertag) is celebrated on Ascension Day. German men traditionally celebrate by hiking out into the woods with copious amounts of beer and ham (along with other traditional German foods).

France owes its Father’s Day celebration to a company that manufactured cigarette lighters.

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How to Celebrate May Day Around the World

Yesterday was May Day, and that means it’s time for a party. Or a protest. Maybe both.  Why are May Day celebrations around the world so different? To find out, let’s take a look at the history of the holiday and the places where it’s celebrated.

Traditional May Day Celebrations Around the World

In the northern hemisphere, May Day celebrates the coming of spring (or of summer, depending on where you are).  Many May Day traditions have roots that go back to before the arrival of Christianity.

For example, the ancient Romans celebrated the end of April with a six-day-long festival in honor of the goddess Flora. The festival featured games, performances, “lustful” animals like hares and goats running rampant, flowers and a sacrifice to Flora at the end.

Meanwhile, Celtic cultures traditionally observed Beltane on the first of May, with bonfires, flowers, decorating a May Bush, and offerings to the fairies to keep them from making mischief at the expense of the villagers’ herds.

Traces of these ancient rites remain in traditional May Day celebrations around the world, often mixed in with Christian beliefs.

May Day Around the World: United Kingdom

For example, in parts of the UK, May Day celebrations include dancing around a maypole, crowning a May Queen and traditional morris dancing. Some towns have also brought back Jack in the Green, a drunken ruffian character clothed in foliage. Jack in the Green was once a common sight at May Day festivals until Victorian morals did away with him.

Meanwhile, Cornwall hosts unique May Day celebrations, including the ‘Obby ‘Oss festival in Padstow and Flower Boat parades in Kingsand, Cawsand, and Millbrook. For the  ‘Obby ‘Oss festival, villagers decorate the town with a maypole, flowers, and greenery.  Teams of dancers parade through the town. One of them carries a model hobby horse with jaws that snap shut and tries to snatch young women as they pass by. Read more