(I’m going to try writing this post from my Android tablet. It should be interesting!)
Father’s Day is a day of celebration of fatherhood, obviously! It’s of recent origin Wikipedia tells me, introduced in the early 1900s to complement Mother’s Day.
As an aside, I looked up Mother’s Day and found that I was wrong in thinking that it was related to Mothering Sunday (a Christian holiday celebrating women and originally the Mother Church) or to the Christian rite of the Churching of Women (which was a blessing of those who had given birth).
In fact Mother’s Day was introduced also in the early 1900s to celebrate mothers independently of the religious events that I mentioned.
Both events, while they initially included church links and sermons were quickly secularised and even commercialised.
In particular, commercial suppliers of items which were associated with fathers, such as smoking pipe retailers and tobacconists, jumped on the bandwagon.
(From this point I am going to revert to using the PC. While using the tablet is possible, it is not as easy as doing it on the PC. One big loss on the tablet is the word count, so I can’t see how I’m going!)
Also, greeting card companies joined in in a big way. Special Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) cards are created and snapped up by eager consumers. There are TV and press adverts not to mention and even adverts on the latest communication channels, web sites including Twitter and Facebook.
While many may abhor this “crass commercialisation” of Father’s Day (along with the “crass commercialisation” of Valentines Day, Christmas Day, Easter, and so on and on), having a special day for fathers does serve to direct the attention of offspring, who may be thousands of kilometres away, to their father and their unique bond with him.
It may be that the child doesn’t particularly want to remember the father, perhaps because an unhappy relationship between them, but in most cases I’d expect that the children enjoy strengthening the bonds with their father.
These days, with the decline of smoking as a pastime the commercialisation of the day is mostly, it seems, related to DIY. Power tools seem to be a favourite suggestion, and other “blokey” things like barbecues and car tools and parts. None of these would have much appeal to me!
Secularisation of holidays (the word means “holy days” after all) goes hand in hand with commercialisation. About the only Christian holiday that I can think of which has been secularised but not commercialised is the Whit Monday holiday. This is not now celebrated in the UK, having been replaced by Spring Bank Holiday.
Of course commercialisation of holy days and religion matters is not new. The Bible tells of Jesus throwing the money changers and suppliers of animals for sacrifice out of the temple. Parents with small children at Christmas or Easter are likely to see his point.
While there may be an element of cynicism in commercially creating a Father’s Day to balance the idea of Mother’s Day, it appears that both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day originated at about the same time. It also appears that while the Church did not originate either celebration, it gladly assisted in the celebrations.
Commercial Father’s day cards come in two main styles. They are the humorous style and the mawkish. Often a card will combine both styles. Very few Father’s Day cards could be classified as sincere, in my opinion.
This is different from the Mother’s Day cards, which often fall into the mawkish or humorous classifications, but a significant number can, in my opinion, be considered sincere.
Well, let me expand on that a little. I think that because a child is more likely to say “I love you” to his or her mother and have his or her mother respond with a hug and kisses, while a father would tend not to be as demonstrative in response to such a declaration. I don’t mean that fathers would not reciprocate, as most would, I believe. They just would not do it as enthusiastically as the mother would.
So Father’s Day cards tend to be a little more sheepish, have fewer roses and other flowers on them. They tend to the uplifting rather than the overtly affectionate. One example I have in front of me says “You taught me how to believe in myself. You showed me how to be the best person that I could be”.
Mother’s day cards, on the other tend to have slogans like “Beautiful, gentle, understanding, forgiving, my mother’s love“. However, it is only a tendency, as you will discover if you go through the 15 quotes in that link.
It can probably be expected that there are also special days for siblings, parents, grand-parents and so on. These haven’t really caught on like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, fortunately. There is a Children’s Day, but that has a slightly different focus to the others, in that it is directed at children in general, and child poverty in particular, and not directed at children in the family.
That’s possibly because children in the family are celebrated at Christmas and to a lesser extent at Easter. At least from the secular point of view Christmas is mainly about the kids. OK, the parents get to have a holiday and eat and drink more than they should, but the kids’ excitement over presents and the whole Father Christmas thing drives the celebrations.
So, when Father’s Day rolls around, you could probably guess from the above that I am somewhat of a sceptic about it. Although it is a tradition, it is a very young one, and much of the impetus in supporting it comes from commercial interests. That doesn’t stop me enjoying the Father’s Day cards and gifts from my children, and even a slightly off the mark gift from my granddaughter!