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While the exact origins of Father's Day are debatable, the concept of honoring fathers on a special day has historical, culturally specific roots in different countries.
In recent years, Father's Day in France has gained increasing popularity and commercial significance with retailers gladly seizing the opportunity to promote special deals and gift ideas for fathers.
The History of Father's Day around the world
The earliest records of celebrating fathers can be traced back to ancient civilizations. In Babylon, over 4,000 years ago, a young boy named Elmesu carved a Father's Day message on a clay tablet, wishing his father good health and a long life.
Leaping forward through history, the Christian tradition has its own celebration of fathers. In Catholic Europe, the feast day of Saint Joseph, Jesus' foster father, was traditionally celebrated on March 19th and presented the occasion to honor fathers. This practice gained popularity in many European countries, and it still remains an important day in the Catholic calendar.
However, the modern celebration of Father's Day as we know it can be attributed to the efforts of an American called Sonora Smart Dodd (pictured below). Inspired by the newly established Mother's Day, Sonora wanted to publicly recognize the efforts of her own father, William Smart, who raised her and her siblings as a single parent. She proposed the idea of a day dedicated to fathers to her local church and community in Spokane, Washington.
When was the first official Father's Day?
Thanks to Sonora Smart Dodd, the first official Father's Day celebration took place on June 19th 1910, in Spokane, where people wore roses to honor their fathers. Over the years, Father's Day gained popularity across the United States in large part thanks to Dodd's tireless campaining. In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation officially recognizing Father's Day.
Father's Day gradually spread to other countries around the world, and is now celebrated on the thrid Sunday of June in over 70 countries! Some countries adopted their own dates and traditions to honor fathers and broke away from the American mold. For example, in Germany, Father's Day falls on Ascension Day, 40 days after Easter.
The history of Father's Day in France
In France, Father's Day ("Fête des Pères"), is celebrated on the third Sunday of June, following in the footsteps of the United States. However, the establishment of this special day in France has its own unique story.
The concept of honoring fathers in France can be traced back to the early 20th century, shortly after the end of World War I. The devastation caused by the war led to an increased appreciation for fathers and their role in raising children and supporting families.
As a consequence, an association called "La Fête des Pères" was created in 1918 with the aim of promoting fatherhood and organizing a day dedicated to fathers. This association played a significant role in popularizing the idea of Father's Day in France. However, it faced numerous challenges in gaining widespread recognition and establishing an official holiday.
When was Father's Day offically recognized in France?
It was not until 1952, during the government of Vincent Auriol (below left), that Father's Day was officially recognized in France. The Minister of National Education at the time, René Billières (below right), proposed the establishment of a national day to honor fathers.
The chosen date for Father's Day in France was the third Sunday of June. This decision aligned with the date chosen by other countries, including the United States and also allowed for a separation of a few weeks from Mother's Day. This ensured that both parents received individual recognition and appreciation.
The history of Father's day in the UK
The modern concept of Father's Day as a day to honor fathers specifically gained momentum during the early 20th century. The inspiration for a dedicated Father's Day in the UK is often attributed to the influence of Mother's Day, which had already gained popularity.
The credit for introducing Father's Day in the UK is often given to Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton (pictured below), an American living in Fairmont, West Virginia. Mrs. Clayton suggested the idea of honoring fathers in a sermon delivered in 1908 after a mining disaster in the town claimed the lives of 361 men, leaving many children without fathers. She proposed a special day to commemorate and express gratitude for the sacrifices made by fathers.
Although the exact connection between Mrs. Clayton's initiative and the establishment of Father's Day in the UK remains unclear, her efforts may have influenced the growing recognition of fathers in British society.
As we saw previously, in 1910, the concept of Father's Day was further reinforced by Sonora Smart Dodd in the United States. Her campaign to establish an official Father's Day resonated with people in the UK and contributed to the growing enthusiasm for celebrating fathers.
Eventually, in 1972, Father's Day was officially recognized in the UK. Since then, it has been celebrated on the third Sunday of June, aligning with the date observed in many other countries.
How lucrative is Father's Day?
The amount of money spent on Father's Day varies from country to country and depends on various factors such as cultural traditions, economic conditions, and individual preferences.
In the United States, Father's Day is a major commercial holiday, and according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans are set to spend an incredible $22.9 billion on Father's Day gifts this year (2023). Popular gift categories included special outings, electronics, clothing, and personal care items.
In the United Kingdom, Father's Day is also an important occasion, and in 2022, it was estimated that British consumers spent approximately £986 million on Father's Day gifts. Meanwhile in France, people spend an average of 21 euros on presents for their fathers.
Gift guide for fathers of children of all ages
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If you don't happen to be in one of the areas covered by the site (not yet anyway - get in touch if you would like to be listed or make a recommendation), here are some more wonderful gift ideas for him:
For Dads of kids under 5
Great ideas for treats for dads in need of relaxation and fun:
- Personalized photo frames or albums capturing precious moments with the little ones.
- A high-quality coffee maker or a gourmet coffee subscription to help them start their day after a not-so-restful night.
- For Dads with new babies - a massage or spa voucher to provide some well-deserved relaxation and rejuvenation. Looking for the same effect on a shoestring? Contact Petit Caprice for handmade, naturally organic candles made in Montpellier, France (see below left).
- A stylish diaper bag or backpack. If you are in France, try Trinquette Atelier for all things textile handmade locally, or Au fil de Coline which sell recycled leather bags and workshops where you can make them yourselves.
- A subscription to a meal delivery service to make mealtime easier and more convenient.
- For Dads who love gadgets - try a fitness tracker or smartwatch to help them stay active and monitor their health.
- A book or audiobook on parenting or fatherhood to provide guidance and inspiration.
- A personalized keychain or wallet with their child's name or photo. We recommend La Maison Rez'in based in Montpellier, France who offer a range of affordable and personalizable gifts.
- For foodies, gift a cooking class! For traditional French treats, we recommend macaroon making with Eleonore - L'Atelier d'Eléonore classes, patisserie classes with Sebastien Maillet pastry classes (middle picture) or gluten-free goodness with Saveurs d'Amarante - gluten free baking lessons (below right).
- Tickets to a family-friendly event or a theme park for creating lasting memories with family.
Best gifts for guys with children between 5 and 10
Here are some great gift ideas for shared activities that will delight these dads:
- A board or card game that the whole family can enjoy.
- Sports equipment or gear for outdoor activities like soccer, basketball, or cycling.
- A father-child cooking kit or cookbook can be affordable alternatives to cooking classes and encourage culinary adventures in the kitchen.
- A subscription to a family-friendly streaming service for movie nights.
- An interactive puzzle or building set to foster creativity and problem-solving skills.
- For nature enthusiasts, look into a camping gear set for outdoor adventures.
- An art, music, or science parent-child workshop or class, to explore new hobbies together. We recommend painting and drawing classes with Marie-Noelle Wurm online (see image on the left), mosiac classes in Montpellier at Frammenti (middle picture) or book making with Cléo Lebrun (on the right).
- A photography or videography kit to capture shared moments.
- A book series or collection of adventure stories for quality bedtime reading sessions.
- Tickets to a local amusement park or a family vacation for a fun-filled getaway.
What can I get a Father of teenagers?
Here are some gift ideas that will appeal to dads with an evolving relationship with their kids in this stage of parenting:
- A sports-related gift, such as tickets to a game or sports memorabilia of their favorite team.
- A tech gadget, like a tablet, headphones, or a smartwatch, for staying connected and enjoying multimedia.
- An outdoor adventure experience, such as a ziplining or rock climbing excursion, to encourage bonding and active exploration. For local, eco-friendly excursions in the south of France, check out Co-Adventure with Mathilde and Alexis.
- A hobby-related gift, such as a musical instrument, art supplies, or a DIY kit, to nurture their creative side. If they love music, why not offer them a guitar making course with Pierre-Marie at PMC Guitars (see the beautiful guitars pictured below)?
- A subscription to a magazine or book series that aligns with their interests, whether it's sports, technology, or a specific hobby.
- A video game console or a popular video game that they can enjoy playing with their kids.
- A cooking or grilling set to inspire culinary adventures and family meals.
- A personalized gift, such as a customized photo book or a engraved item, to celebrate their unique Dad - child bond.
- Tickets to a live concert, theater performance, or a cultural event that they can attend together.
The best presents for fathers in this stage are those that cater to their individual passions and provide opportunities for quality time and shared experiences with their growing children.
Best presents for fathers with adult children
When it comes to selecting gifts for fathers with adult kids, consider their personal preferences and interests. Here are some thoughtful gift ideas that can bring joy to fathers in this stage of life:
- A personalized photo album or framed picture showcasing cherished memories with their children make for personalised yet affordable gifts.
- A weekend getaway or vacation package to strengthen family bonds.
- A subscription to a wine or whiskey club - explore new flavors and indulge in their favorite beverages. If you are in the south of France, we recommend the Hidden Distillery (left image) for local rum, Domaine Saint-Clement for wine (center image), or Brasserie du lez for locally brewed beer (on the right).
- For those looking to relax and unwind, try a comfortable recliner or a cozy armchair.
- An outdoor grill or a BBQ set to encourage gatherings and enjoyable moments with family and friends.
- A book collection by their favorite author or a biography of someone they admire. If, like so many people, you feel a pang of guilt every time you use Amazon, bookshop.org offer an online alternative supporting local bookshops in the UK. In France my librairie has an excellent listing of local bookshops all around the country.
- A membership to a hobby club or organization that aligns with their interests, such as golf, fishing, or woodworking.
- If they are interested in enhancing their culinary skills, a cooking class or culinary workshop can make a great last-minute gift - just find a class and give the chef a call - no need to rush around the shops!
- A smart home device or gadget to make their daily routines more convenient and enjoyable.
- A gift certificate for a spa day or wellness retreat to promote relaxation and self-care.
Gifts ideas for Grandad
It's easy to overlook grandfathers on Father's Day! These gifts consider their unique role as grandparents and their interests:
- A hobby-related gift, to indulge in their passions. In the south of France, we recommend pottery classes in central Montpellier at Claycraft (left image) or stained glass window classes with Angéline at Atelier Vitrail courses (center image) or guitar making courses with Pierre-Marie at PMC Guitars. In the south of England, there are wonderful glass blowing lessons at Bristol Blue Glass (right picture)
- A personalized photo book or picture frame filled with family memories and photos of their grandchildren.
- Wearables like a comfortable yet stylish T-shirt or sweatshirt.
- A gardening set or tools for their green thumb.
- A subscription to a magazine or newspaper on their hobbies or interests.
- A nostalgic gift, such as a vinyl record player with their favorite music.
- A customized mug or flask with a special message or their grandchildren's names.
- A memoir that reflects their life experiences.
- A puzzle or brain teaser game.
- A gift certificate for a favorite restaurant or a cooking class.
Looking for a gift for Mum for Mother's Day, a loved one for Valentine's, or family and friends for Christmas and birthdays? A quick natif creatif search or our other blog articles could help you out!
Top image attributed to freepik.