Father's Day - A Popular Worldwide Tradition

Father's Day - A Popular Worldwide Tradition

A Father’s work is never done.

David Osbourne, Writer

David Osbourne


A Father’s work  is never done
A Father’s work is never done

As we approach Father’s Day, we’ve taken a look at this celebrated day and how it became established in our calendar. We also focus on two individuals who have been at the centre of the greetings card industry in the UK, playing their part in the family celebrations we all know and love.

The generally accepted view is the UK followed the United States in adopting this day as a designated ‘Father’s Day’. Inspired by the American Mother’s Day celebrations, a lady called Sonora Smart Dodd decided on a day to honour fathers. This was started in 1910, and the UK followed this tradition and Father’s Day was started in the UK. It has been popular ever since.

There are also some other suggestions that the idea of Father’s Day may originate in pagan sun worship. Some branches of paganism see the sun as the ‘father’ of the universe. Since the summer solstice occurs around the same time of year as Father’s Day, some people see a link between the two.

A poem for Father’s Day


(author unknown)

“F” aithful
“A” lways there
“T” rustworthy
“H” onouring
“E” ver-loving
“R” ighteous
“S” upportive

How is Father’s Day celebrated around the world?

In Thailand, it’s celebrated on December 5th along with the birthday of the King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, considered the ‘father of the nation’. Tradition holds that everyone wears yellow on Father’s Day, the ‘official colour’ of Monday, the day of the week the King was born.

In South Africa, children present their fathers with gifts such as flowers, cards, neckties and other novelties. Here, families enjoy picnics on Father’s Day or spend the afternoon fishing in the hope of securing a catch for dinner.

In Germany, ‘Vatertag’ began in the Middle Ages as a religious procession. Celebrations begin with a male only hike with a picnic of regional food, beer and wine. In the cities, the day is often spent in the beer garden!

In Japan, flowers are an integral part of the celebration. Children also give their dads handmade beer glasses, candles and sweets as a tradition.

Mexico and the United States are similar to the U.K. with the day encompassing prepared meals and gifts to Dads. The day is a time to reflect and give thanks for the efforts of the father in the family.

Father’s Day has become a hugely popular day of celebration. Throughout the World people thank their father on this day. Many children provide a Father’s Day card and this has helped card manufacturers and various entrepreneurs develop a flourishing industry.

The Growth of the Greetings Card

Entrepreneurs such as Don Lewin and Andrew Brownsword are two such individuals who have made their mark in the greetings card industry in the UK, tapping the ever-popular demand for greetings cards. Despite the economic downturn of the last couple of years, greeting cards remain an ever important part of the UK social culture people clearly still want to celebrate special occasions with their families and the greeting card is at the centre of this.

According to the Greeting Card Association, the greeting card industry is responsible for the jobs of 100,000 people in the UK, including publishers; artists, photographers and image suppliers; verse and prose writers; printers; paper and board companies; envelope and cello wrap suppliers; specialist finishers; warehousing and distribution companies; trade fair organisers and retailers.

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Nearly £1.38 billion was spent on single cards in the last year more than tea and coffee spend put together! The UK has the most successful greeting card industry in the world with an average 31 cards being sent per person each year.

The stars of the industry

Two leading lights in the greetings card industry over recent years have undoubtedly been the entrepreneurs Don Lewin and Andrew Brownsword.

Don Lewin was born in Bow, East London in 1933 and grew up during the Blitz in World War Two. After leaving school, he joined the national service and became a door to door salesman. At the age of 26 he got a job as a freelance salesman selling greetings cards to retailers. In 1968, he borrowed £500 and opened a greeting card shop named Clinton Cards (after his son Clinton).

Success followed and he opened more shops. By 1987 he had created a chain of 77 shops and then floated the company on the stock exchange for a valuation of £20m. At its peak, the company had 800 shops in the UK and Ireland, was valued at £140m and had sales of £492m.

Here we see Don and Clinton Lewin’s family journey from working class Londoner’s to millionaires using Treeview.co.uk

Andrew Brownsword, another leading light, was born in Staffordshire in 1947. Andrew’s parents were Douglas and Eileen, married in Wolverhampton in 1943. His sister Jayne was born two years after him in 1949 as we discover on TheGenealogist.

Andrew Brownsword’s birth record at TheGenealogist.co.uk
Andrew Brownsword’s birth record at TheGenealogist.co.uk
Andrew’s parents were married in Wolverhampton (TheGenealogist.co.uk)
Andrew’s parents were married in Wolverhampton (TheGenealogist.co.uk)
Andrew’s sister Jayne was born in 1949 (TheGenealogist.co.uk)
Andrew’s sister Jayne was born in 1949 (TheGenealogist.co.uk)

He started selling greetings cards to retailers like WH Smith from boxes and the back of his car. In 1987, he developed the ‘Forever Friends’ greeting card genre with artist Deborah Jones above a takeaway in Reading. His business was later acquired by Hallmark Cards in 1994 for an estimated £195m.

Their achievements are a testament to an innovative and highly successful UK greetings card industry which has stood the test of time.

Finally we look at some humourous thoughts from celebrities who pay tribute to their fathers…

Any man today who returns from work, sinks into a chair, and calls for his pipe is a man with an appetite for danger. – Bill Cosby

My dad taught me everything I know. It’s not very much, but that’s all I know. – Bubba Watson, pro golfer

My Father had a profound influence on me, he was a lunatic. – Spike Milligan

A father carries pictures where his money used to be. – Anonymous

Happy Father’s Day!

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