French Language Blog

Don’t Forget La Fête Des Pères! Posted by on Jun 14, 2017 in Culture

After la fête des mères last month, it’s now time to think about la fête des pères (Father’s Day). The holiday is just around the corner en France, which makes it a good time to look at son histoire (its history)!

Photo by Global X on Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

La fête des pères has religious origins going back to le Moyen Âge (the Middle Ages) with the Catholic celebration of la saint Joseph on March 19th.

La tradition (the tradition) of celebrating les pères on le jour de la saint Josoph (Saint Joseph’s Day) exists in many countries of Catholic tradition and explains why some countries en Europe et en Amérique latine (in Europe and in Latin America) celebrate the holiday on a different day than la France et les États-Unis.

Le jour de la saint Joseph is also when the Copts, an Egyptian branch of Christianity, honor les pères. However, because of calender differences, la date de la fête is not March 19th, but instead July 20th.

La fête moderne (the modern holiday) was introduced in the early 20th century by l’américaine, Sonora Smart Dodd. Sonora thought it was unfair that there was only a holiday for les mères and wanted a way to honor her father who raised six children by himself after la mort de sa mère (the death of her mother).

She originally chose l’annivesraire de son père (her father’s birthday), June 5th, as la date de la fête, but after time constraints with the pastor who would lead la célébration, la date was changed to le troisième dimanche de juin (the third Sunday of June). La première fête des pères (the first Father’s Day) was then celebrated in Spokane, Washington, on June 10th, 1910.

While Sonara’s celebration was a success it took many years for the holiday to become officially recognized. Following la première fête des pères, many presidents attempted to create a national holiday, but the idea never solidifed into law until the 1970s.

In 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring les pères and fixed la date de la fête to le troisième dimanche de juin. Finally, en 1972, la fête des pères was signed into law by Richard Nixon and a national holiday was born.

En France, la fête des pères was first introduced by le fabriquant de briquets (the lighter manufacturer), Flaminaire. Flaminaire saw the success of the holiday aux États-Unis as a means to introduce their briquets into the French market. In 1950, l’entreprise (the company) officially launched la première fête des pères en France with the slogan:

« Nos papas nous l’ont dit, pour la fête des pères, ils désirent tous un Flaminaire »
“Our Dads told us it, for Father’s day, they all want a Flaminaire”

Two years later la fête des pères became une celebration officiale (an official celebration) and la date was set to le troisième dimanche de juin, the same day as les États-Unis.

No matter where la fête des pères originally came from it is now a widespread holiday when le monde entier (the whole world) takes time to honor les pères. While la date exacte (the exact date) may not be the same everywhere, the sentiment surely is.

Take a moment to practice your French this coming Sunday and say:

Bonne fête des pères !
Happy Father’s Day!

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.