Sunday, May 4, 2014

Father´s Day in Germany

Father´s Day in Germany falls on Christi Himmelfahrt (Ascension Day), this year, Thursday, May 29. Ascension Day is always on the Thursday forty days after Easter, and is a national holiday (Note: All stores closed). 

While many of us (at least from the US!) think of Father´s Day as a day to get your Dad a gift as a small token of thanks for all he has done for you, and a day spend with your Dad, here it is much different. 

On Father´s Day, you will see much of this! 

Photo: German Pulse
Father´s Day, also called Herrentag or Männertag (Men´s Day) is a "Boy´s Day Out" here. Father´s get a day off! Groups of men (not limited to fathers) grab a "Bollerwagen", fill it with beer, wine or schnapps (along with a bit of food), and go out walking for the day. Here in Bamberg, you can see streams of men, wagons in tow, beers in hand  singing loudly (and badly) along the river paths. Others make it a pub crawl (Männerrunde). 

Where did this tradition come from? According to Wikipedia "These traditions are probably rooted in Christian Ascension Day's processions to the farmlands, which has been celebrated since the 18th century. Men would be seated in a wooden cart and carried to the village's plaza, and the mayor would award a prize to the father who had the most children, usually a big piece of ham."

You can read more about the traditions in Der Spiegel here (including some rather amusing pictures!) 

So get your guy a Bollerwagen, fill it with beer, and wish him "Alles Gute zum Vatertag!" (or Herrentag if he´s not a Dad)! 

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