Give Him What He Wants: How Fathers Are Celebrated Around the World

2019-08-20T13:31:08-03:00June 10th, 2019|Cross Border Opportunity|

Father’s Day is a newer tradition than Mother’s Day in most countries. In the U.S., it became an official, nationwide holiday in 1972, 58 years after Mother’s Day. Dads still don’t receive quite as much love as moms when it comes to gift giving: in the U.S. consumers have typically spent less for Father’s Day than Mother’s Day. (Consumers were expected to spend $25 billion on gifts for mom in 2019.)

But the National Retail Federation predicted that American consumers will spend a record $16 billion on gifts for dad this year (a growth of 70% over the last decade). A large proportion of this gift buying takes place online: a recent survey of 7,591 consumers found that 34% planned to shop online this year.

Father’s Day spending has also been increasing internationally, including in Canada and the U.K. In Australia, consumers have even spent more on dad than mom recently.

Father’s Day traditions vary widely.

Like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is a rewarding holiday for cross border e-commerce retailers, but it’s crucial to remember that it’s celebrated on different days in global markets.

Many countries, including Canada, the U.S., the U.K., France, Greece, Mexico, Japan, South Africa, and India, celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June. Dates vary worldwide, however. Families in Australia and New Zealand, for example, fete their fathers on the first Sunday in September. In Thailand the date is December 5 and in Brazil the holiday occurs on the second Sunday in August. In Catholic Europe, Father’s Day is often celebrated on March 19. In some countries, father figures such as older brothers, uncles and family friends are also honored.

In addition to this wide timeline of dates, Father’s Day celebrations vary widely around the world. Here’s a snapshot of how the holiday is observed in major global markets:

  • The official flower of Father’s Day is the red rose, a tradition that began in the U.S. While flowers are no longer a core element of most  celebrations in the U.S., they are in other countries. In Thailand, for example, where Father’s Day occurs on the same day as the king’s birthday, dads are offered Canna lilies and other flowers.
  • In Germany, Father’s Day is celebrated 40 days after Easter, which coincides with Ascension Day. But the holiday is less about celebrating dad and more about male bonding, going on hikes, and enjoying rowdy pub crawls. Indeed, Germany might be the only country where hanging out with offspring is not a central part of traditional festivities. Food and beer baskets are popular gifts.
  • In the Netherlands, dads enjoy breakfast in bed and receive homemade gifts from their children. Food and beverage items have been the most frequently purchased presents in recent years. Dining out is also popular.
  • Father’s Day is very important in Mexico. During the annual 21km race held in Mexico City, children and fathers run side by side. Father figures, including big brothers and other important male relatives or friends, are also celebrated on this day. Sharing a meal with the extended family is an integral element of the holiday.
  • In Spain, Father’s Day is celebrated on St. Joseph’s Day, and a big family meal is an integral element.
  • In Japan, Father’s Day was not widely celebrated until the 1980s and gift buying still lags behind countries like the U.S.  Recently, consumers have been spending more on presents for dad, with daughters being more active purchasers than sons. Beer, sake, and gourmet foods are popular gifts.
  • Father’s Day is also a relatively new tradition in India. It’s celebrated in large cities such as Mumbai and New Delhi but usually not in rural areas. As in the U.S., kids give their fathers a range of gifts, including electronic gadgets, books and clothing.  

Father’s Day offers opportunities for cross-border retailers in certain markets where gift giving is a common tradition.  However, it’s crucial to time your campaigns, keep local traditions top of mind, and carefully target your product to each global market.

To stay up to date on global gift-selling holidays, from Valentine’s Day to Christmas, download Flow’s Gift Sellers Guide to Global Holidays.

Written by
Juliana Pereira is Vice President, Marketing at Flow Commerce. With 15 years experience in marketing and ecommerce, Juliana joined the Flow team after serving as Vice President of Marketing at Smartling. Previously Juliana worked across a variety of verticals and industries, from non-profits and publishing to tech and fashion, including management positions and key contributing roles at Ralph Lauren, The Met Store online (at The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Ziff Davis, and eMusic.