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How 9 Countries Celebrate Father's Day

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Happy Father’s Day! This year, are you thinking of honoring your pop by wearing pink, drinking Schnapps in the woods and touching his feet with your forehead? Turns out you’re not alone in celebrating this way. 

1. IN THAILAND

Father’s Day in Thailand isn’t until December 5th. And that’s because the day coincides with the birthday of their current king (in this case, Bhumibol Adulyadej). It’s also a recent tradition to wear pink, after King Bhumibol was seen in 2007 leaving a hospital in a pink blazer following a health scare. Another (fading) custom involves Thais giving the gift of a Canna flower to their fathers and grandfathers. So, if you’re not looking forward to a day of Buds at Applebee’s, do we have an alternative for you!

2. IN RUSSIA

The closest thing to Father’s Day here is Defender of the Fatherland Day, originally established to commemorate the establishment of the Red Army during the Russian Civil War. Now observed on February 23rd, it is a day to honor not only those serving in the military, but men in general. Thus, in addition to getting gifts from their children, fathers can sometimes expect gifts from female co-workers. Twice as many ties to not wear!

3. IN NEPAL

The country’s Gokarna Aunsi is not actually celebrated until late summer, and it’s not officially a Father’s Day in the Western sense. In fact, its name literally translates to “cow eared no moon night.” So where does pops factor in? Well, not only does he get some gifts, he is honored to be touched on his feet by his son’s forehead. Hopefully, one of the gifts in question was socks.

4. IN ROMANIA

There’s not much unusual about Father’s Day here … other than there finally is one. Romania is notable in that it was the last EU nation to have a Father’s Day, which wasn’t made official until 2010. This change largely came due to the efforts of a group called TATA, or the Alliance Fighting Discrimination Against Fathers. 

5., 6. and 7. IN ITALY, SPAIN AND PORTUGAL

Father’s Day in these predominantly Catholic nations coincides with the Feast of St. Joseph, an observation in honor of guys named Joe, carpenters, things like that. However, since the Feast falls on March 19th, it comes right in the middle of Lent, meaning—gasp!—no meat. On Father’s Day. You might as well take your mom out for a night of MMA while you’re at it.

8. IN GERMANY

Now here’s a place that gets it right—or at least did get it right. First of all, Father’s Day (Vatertag) here is a federal holiday.  Secondly, the traditional celebration involves men going on hikes in the woods pulling wagons loaded with beer and schnapps. Then they get loaded. Sadly, in modern times, this celebration has essentially devolved into an amateur-hour pub crawl, but hey, the idea was sound.

9. IN THE UNITED STATES

We’re guessing you are up on how Father’s Day is celebrated here in the states: a call to your pop. However, unlike Mother’s Day, you seem to not have any trouble sticking your parental unit with the charges. This traditionally makes Father’s Day the busiest day of the year for collect calls … and makes you kind of a cheapskate. 

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Chinese New Year
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Some celebrants call it the Spring Festival, a stretch of time that signals the progression of the lunisolar Chinese calendar; others know it as the Chinese New Year. For a 15-day period beginning February 16, China will welcome the Year of the Dog, one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac table.

Sound unfamiliar? No need to worry: Check out 10 facts about how one-sixth of the world's total population rings in the new year.

1. THE HOLIDAY WAS ORIGINALLY MEANT TO SCARE OFF A MONSTER.

Nian at Chinese New Year
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As legend would have it, many of the trademarks of the Chinese New Year are rooted in an ancient fear of Nian, a ferocious monster who would wait until the first day of the year to terrorize villagers. Acting on the advice of a wise old sage, the townspeople used loud noises from drums, fireworks, and the color red to scare him off—all remain components of the celebration today.

2. A LOT OF FAMILIES USE IT AS MOTIVATION TO CLEAN THE HOUSE.

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While the methods of honoring the Chinese New Year have varied over the years, it originally began as an opportunity for households to cleanse their quarters of "huiqi," or the breaths of those that lingered in the area. Families performed meticulous cleaning rituals to honor deities that they believed would pay them visits. The holiday is still used as a time to get cleaning supplies out, although the work is supposed to be done before it officially begins.

3. IT WILL PROMPT BILLIONS OF TRIPS.

Man waiting for a train.
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Because the Chinese New Year places emphasis on family ties, hundreds of millions of people will use the Lunar period to make the trip home. Accounting for cars, trains, planes, and other methods of transport, the holiday is estimated to prompt nearly three billion trips over the 15-day timeframe.

4. IT INVOLVES A LOT OF SUPERSTITIONS.

Colorful pills and medications
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While not all revelers subscribe to embedded beliefs about what not to do during the Chinese New Year, others try their best to observe some very particular prohibitions. Visiting a hospital or taking medicine is believed to invite ill health; lending or borrowing money will promote debt; crying children can bring about bad luck.

5. SOME PEOPLE RENT BOYFRIENDS OR GIRLFRIENDS TO SOOTHE PARENTS.

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In China, it's sometimes frowned upon to remain single as you enter your thirties. When singles return home to visit their parents, some will opt to hire a person to pose as their significant other in order to make it appear like they're in a relationship and avoid parental scolding. Rent-a-boyfriends or girlfriends can get an average of $145 a day.

6. RED ENVELOPES ARE EVERYWHERE.

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An often-observed tradition during Spring Festival is to give gifts of red envelopes containing money. (The color red symbolizes energy and fortune.) New bills are expected; old, wrinkled cash is a sign of laziness. People sometimes walk around with cash-stuffed envelopes in case they run into someone they need to give a gift to. If someone offers you an envelope, it's best to accept it with both hands and open it in private.

7. IT CAN CREATE RECORD LEVELS OF SMOG.

fireworks over Beijing's Forbidden City
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Fireworks are a staple of Spring Festival in China, but there's more danger associated with the tradition than explosive mishaps. Cities like Beijing can experience a 15-fold increase in particulate pollution. In 2016, Shanghai banned the lighting of fireworks within the metropolitan area.

8. BLACK CLOTHES ARE A BAD OMEN.

toddler dressed up for Chinese New Year
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So are white clothes. In China, both black and white apparel is traditionally associated with mourning and are to be avoided during the Lunar month. The red, colorful clothes favored for the holiday symbolize good fortune.

9. IT LEADS TO PLANES BEING STUFFED FULL OF CHERRIES.

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Cherries are such a popular food during the Festival that suppliers need to go to extremes in order to meet demand—last year Singapore Airlines flew four chartered jets to Southeast and North Asian areas. More than 300 tons were being delivered in time for the festivities.

10. PANDA EXPRESS IS HOPING IT'LL CATCH ON IN THE STATES.

Box of takeout Chinese food from Panda Express
domandtrey, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Although their Chinese food menu runs more along the lines of Americanized fare, the franchise Panda Express is still hoping the U.S. will get more involved in the festival. The chain is promoting the holiday in its locations by running ad spots and giving away a red envelope containing a gift: a coupon for free food. Aside from a boost in business, Panda Express hopes to raise awareness about the popular holiday in North America.

A version of this story originally ran in 2017.

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