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Are you settling for a card or going all out on a bollerwagen? A bottle of aftershave or a bunch of lilies? Yes it’s that time again. Dad Day.

Father's Day is quite a moveable feast (literally) depending where in the globe you live.  For example ‘Farsdag’ for a Norwegian falls on the second Sunday in November, for Thailand it’s December 5th. Spain, Italy and Portugal have already done their celebrating in March while Australia, New Zealand and Fiji don’t start faffing around with greetings cards until September. We obviously have it still to come - June 19th in case you weren’t already aware.

The truth is that Father’s Day is celebrated in one hundred and eleven countries across the globe. They also have very different ways of going about it. 

bollerwagon fathers day gift

Well rather as you might expect. It’s all about male bonding and is known as ‘Vatertag’.  The tradition is for men to go out on hikes together. They take with them a ‘Bollerwagen’. This is a cheery hand pulled trolley, sometimes hand painted, and filled with - you guessed it- beer, wine and food, to sustain the men on their hike.How far they hike is not mentioned. End of the garden or up the Alps is unspecified. What is specified is that the day after the Vatertag is a public holiday or a ‘Bruckentag’ so that everyone can recover from the contents of the Bollerwagen. If you put it to the vote, I can see British men going for this notion in spades. Idea for Boris possibly.


‘Fete des Peres’, is a paper fest in France. Children engage in what they do best, making things out of paper using their cereal boxes - creativity and recycling - brilliant. Apparently ties are a thing, bow ties, or the office sort, causing hoots of laughter around the breakfast table.  The marketing element of Dad Day was originally given a boost in 1949 when ‘Flamaire’, a French cigarette lighter company started to advertise their products as gifts for the smoking dad. Clearly this has been phased out, for all the obvious.


fathers day gift japan


Paper crafting is traditional here too, but I suspect having seen the intricacy of Japanese paper cutting, that it is on a slightly different level to ours. Children make gift labels to put on their presents, and flowers play an important part. At the heart of every ‘Chichi’ is a Monty Don, who appreciates flowers. A bunch is not seen as a girly gesture.  I don’t think the Japanese do garage flowers. Flowers are high art and deeply symbolic.  There is usually a family feast too.  The whole event sounds very grown-up and civilised. The feast often involves seafood - crab and prawns, probably battered. Yum.


This is an odd one, but in Montevideo, families honour fathers by hanging a skeleton outside their home, which represents, not dad, but Padre Esqueleto. Skeletons feature in Canada too, where neighbours gather together in their nearest cemetery to reenact a traditional father’s day tale. Now, this is a good one. The town mayor usually plays the role of the skeleton and children the helpless victims. This sounds like a tradition capable of triggering many warnings. 


fathers day skeletons


Closer to home they are also at it in Scotland. Every Father’s Day, families build papier-mache models of ‘Peter Bones’, before gathering at nightfall to burn the effigies on a bonfire. Norway, Ukraine, Finland apparently all love a skeleton.  The Fins have the edge when it comes to a dystopian celebration. The children dress up, and march around the town accusing their fathers of murder. This is known as ‘Daddy’s private nightmare’. I should say so. Although this does sound so bizarre that maybe it’s fake news, and they probably do breakfast in bed like everyone else.

All in all it makes our beer and bonding dad day look distinctly tame. When you thought the British were leaders in the field, it turns out we are absolutely lagging behind the pack. Father's Day should obviously be a kind of Halloween horror show. Maybe you thought it was anyway. 

So all you dads out there, open your after shave with joy, wear your socks with pride - we could have been putting you on the bonfire. 

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