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Father’s Day in Germany

Father’s Day in Germany

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Father’s Day in Germany is proof that fathers in Germany have it figured out. Think about it… on Mother’s day, you get a card, a messy kitchen, and some flowers. In Germany, Fathers spend the day walking around in groups drinking while pulling a Bollerwagon full of beer, wine, schnapps and grill-able snacks! And! Since Father’s Day (Herrentag or Männertag) ALWAYS falls on a holiday… it turns into a 4 day weekend! (One day to get properly drunk, and 3 days to sleep it off!). But, how did this come about? How did Father’s Day in Germany turn into a wandering Drunken Fest? Believe it or not, it goes back to the Middle Ages….


When is Father’s Day in Germany

Father’s Day in Germany has fallen on Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt) since 370 AD. For those of you who missed that day in Sunday School… Ascension Day falls 40 days after Easter (the Thursday after the 5th Sunday), and is the day Jesus ascends into Heaven to sit with his Father. (This is what gives us the connection to Fathers… although, it’s kind of weak if you ask me).

In 2019 Ascension Day is May 30.


Beer of the Month Club

Father’s Day in Germany

But why the wagon? And why the Beer?  Sources are a little fuzzy, but this is how I understand it. In the Middle Ages in some farming communities, Fathers were loaded up in a wagon and pulled to center of the Village on Christi Himmelfahrt (Ascension Day). The Father who had the most children was awarded a Ham (for FATHERING children… note that the women don’t get Ham). Then there was bier and celebrating. Because it’s Germany.

when is fathers day in germany

An old fashioned German Bollerwagen

 

As time went by, the presentation of the ham faded away, but the Fathers celebrating with wagons and beer hung on.

You can still present your Father with a Ham, Click HERE–> Black Forest Ham

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By the 1900s industrialization led to the development of a new “Leisure Society” in Germany among the  bourgeoisie. Basically, a middle and upper middle class developed full of people who no longer had to work 7 days a week to survive… so they invented ways to spend their time off. A tradition of men’s Naturerfahrung or Nature Walks Men’s developed. Men’s clubs would gather on Sundays and holidays to drink and walk together.   And by the 1870s these Herrenparties were fairly normal. Men would gather to drink, smoke, talk about women, and introduce Bachelors to “manly life”.

World War II reigned things in a bit, and by the 70’s and 80’s, weekly drinking parties were thought to be a bit old-fashioned. The focus of the drinking shifted to just Father’s Day. Oh, and Oktoberfest, and Schützenfest, and Fruhschoppen, and the odd Tuesday when nothing is on TV.

when is father's day in germany

Father’s Day in Germany Today

Mens Maennertag Vatertag Bollerwagen T-ShirtMens Maennertag Vatertag Bollerwagen T-ShirtMens Maennertag Vatertag Bollerwagen T-Shirt

These days German men get wildly creative on Father’s Day ie. Männertag or Herrentag. Wooden Wagons (known as Bollerwagen) are loaded up with provisions and decorated. Men wander in groups with their wagons drinking and celebrating. Some attach bike bells to walking sticks so you can hear them coming.

Some groups of men even travel in packs on bicycles! (It’s no wonder that Ascension day is also known as Accident Day in Germany. )

You will find men celebrating Herrentag in Germany in Parks, Restaurants and Bier Gartens. And if you are there… and you are a man… you can join in the fun… because according to Spiegel “men’s day, is open to any male who wants to demonstrate his loutish, caveman side.”

father's day in germany

Photo copyright: eselsmann License: CC-BY-3.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.de)

Happy Father’s Day!

A more Detailed Look at Vatertag and a Bollerwagentour in Germany

 

 

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