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German Father's Day, also called "Vatertag" or "Herrentag," has a captivating history dating back to the Middle Ages. Originally tied to Ascension Day, it held religious significance and later evolved into a secular holiday honoring fathers and male figures. In the early 20th century, it gained popularity among men's clubs, becoming a day for bonding and outdoor activities. This tradition originated from the Ascension Day processions in rural areas during the 18th century. Men would ride in wooden carts to the village square, competing for a prize of specialty ham awarded by the Mayor to the father with the most children.
Over time, the religious aspect faded, and men began organizing leisurely walks accompanied by beer, regional delicacies called Hausmannskost and, of course, ham. The tradition of the wagon is still maintained in the form of the Bollerwagon, a smaller hand drawn cart filled to the brim with food and booze. Additionally, many people take the following Friday off, creating a four-day weekend for vacations. German Father's Day celebrates fatherhood, masculinity, and the important role of men in society, while offering men the opportunity to partake in activities such as hiking, picnics, quality time with their families and of course – ham!
Father’s Day in the United States has different origins and is much more closely aligned to the popularity of Mother’s Day. It originated in Spokane, Washington, at the YMCA in 1910, courtesy of Sonora Smart Dodd, a native of Arkansas. Dodd's father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran, bravely raised his six children as a single parent in Spokane. Inspired by a sermon on Anna Jarvis's Mother's Day at the Central Methodist Episcopal Church in 1909, Dodd shared her belief with her pastor that fathers deserved a similar holiday in their honor.
Father's Day initially struggled until Dodd's return to Spokane in the 1930s, where she garnered support from providers of traditional gifts for fathers, along with trade groups, including tie and tobacco pipe manufacturers, to promote the holiday. Despite resistance from Americans perceiving it as a commercialized replication of Mother's Day, trade groups persisted and achieved success. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed the third Sunday in June as Father's Day, later made a national holiday by President Richard Nixon in 1972.
So who does Father's Day the best? In the end, each Holiday is for celebrating the special people in our lives that helped raise us. It never hurts to do things a little differently, however. This coming Father's Day, instead of getting your Dad a tie or a razor, why not a ham?
Stuck on an idea? We here at Fehrenbach's are happy to help! We have a large amount of authentic German Steins, Glassware and Clocks for you to choose from. Most importantly, we have plenty of Frozen Meats and other German Delicacies to help keep your father full and relaxed all Father's Day long!