Father’s Day

 

Photo taken by me as an example of a stay at h...
Photo taken by me as an example of a stay at home dad and kids. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(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.

Mother's Day cake
Mother’s Day cake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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).

c. 1470
c. 1470 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

English: Mother's Day card
English: Mother’s Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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!)

English: I took this picture myself.
English: I took this picture myself. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

English: James M Masters as a baby in his fath...
English: James M Masters as a baby in his father’s arms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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!

Drill2
Drill2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

English: Return Whit-Monday Excursion from Wes...
English: Return Whit-Monday Excursion from Weston-super-Mare at Bristol Temple Meads, with unusual locomotive View southward from No. 9 Up platform, towards Weston-super-Mare and Taunton: ex-GW London and the North – Taunton – Exeter etc. main lines. The train is at No. 7 Up platform and is probably bound for South Wales as it is – unusually – headed by a Churchward ‘4200’ 2-8-0T, No. 4283 (built 6/20). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Jesus casting out the money changers from the ...
Jesus casting out the money changers from the Temple by Giotto, 14th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Silly string in action
Silly string in action (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

US Navy 030506-N-0685W-004 Aviation Anti-Subma...
US Navy 030506-N-0685W-004 Aviation Anti-Submarine Warfare Specialist 1st Class Ron Hoefer, from Alfa, Okla., holds his son in his arms for the first time (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

English: A young girl kisses a baby on the cheek.
English: A young girl kisses a baby on the cheek. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...
English: Santa Claus with a little girl Esperanto: Patro Kristnasko kaj malgranda knabino Suomi: Joulupukki ja pieni tyttö (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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!

Louise's Father's Day Stone
Louise’s Father’s Day Stone

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Religion and ceremonies

I’m not a religious person, but two or three times a year my wife drags me to church. I love the rituals and the ceremonials.

At Easter the local Roman Catholic church on Good Friday enacts the ritual of the “Stations of the Cross”. Whatever one might think of religion, the ceremonials add a dignity to the institution of the church and I like this one.

The celebrants face in order one of the “stations” which is a depiction of one of the stages in the progress of Christ to the cross and thence to his entombment. At each station a fairly free-form prayer or verse is sung.

I find the ritual moving, but I don’t know why! As I said, I’m not religious, but the re-enactment of this religion’s pivotal event is engaging. I suspect that I would experience similar feeling if I experienced a similar re-enactment of another religion’s similar event.

Reenacting the Stations of the Cross in Jerusa...
Reenacting the Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem on the Via Dolorosa from the Lions’ Gate to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a non-believer I’m bemused as to why I feel moved by the ritual. I should recognise it as such and discount it, but rituals such as this, and the marriage ritual do move me. Even if the ritual is supposedly secular as in many marriages.

Ceremony and ritual are so necessary to human social interactions that we invent them if there aren’t any there already – a good example is the POTUS, the President of the United States. So many rituals surround him, and they were invented just for him.

The stations of the cross supposedly started with St Francis of Assisi, and this is interesting, since “Francis” is the name chosen by the current and recently elected Pope. It will be interesting to see how far this apparently humble man can extend his concern for the poor throughout his church. Interestingly, he has included women and non-christians in his “washing of the feet” ritual for Maundy Thursday.

Pope Francis washes feet
Pope Francis washes feet

Hot Cross Buns

I thought about cooking “Hot Cross Buns” for a while, but finally decided to make an attempt at cooking some. There are three components to Hot Cross Buns, firstly the buns themselves, secondly the cross on the top, and thirdly the glaze. I used this recipe from the New Zealand Herald. Here’s the result.

IMG_20130328_230231
Hot cross buns

The dough was straightforward, but included extra ingredients like sultanas. An interesting observation was that the sultanas seemed to pop out of the dough if they came to the surface during kneading!

After the usual kneading and rising the dough was divided into buns and the cross was put onto them. The cross was a simple mixture of flour and water but piping it onto the buns was a challenge. Unlike frosting or icing I didn’t find it easy to finish a line. I snipped the line of ‘cross’ with kitchen scissors to end it. A wet finger tidied up, but I wasn’t completely happy with the crosses (and they turned out to be chewy. The dog benefited!)

As a final step, when the buns were cooked, the glaze was applied. It’s a simple gelatine glaze, but I’ve not done one before, so I was pleased with the results. The glaze gave, as intended, a nice shiny, sticky finish to the buns.

The buns tasted great, so I consider this a great success.

IMG_20130328_230239
Hot cross buns