Bonne Fête, Papa!

Bonne Fête, Papa!
After all the excitement over Mother’s Day, husbands, husbands-to-be, fathers, brothers, grandpas and others will get to take their turn in the spotlight in just a couple of weeks. Yes, Father’s Day is fast approaching! If you are an early bird shopper, you are likely already trying to decide what you are going to buy for the significant men in your life. First, a little background…Internet sources say that Father’s Day was celebrated in Babylon over 4000 years ago! A Father’s Day message from a young boy named Elmesu, wishing his father good health and long life, was found carved in clay. Millennia later, a Spokane, Washington woman decided to honor her father (a widower who raised his six children alone) after listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. She initiated a month of remembrance among local churches the following year, choosing the month of June for the commemoration because her father was born during that month. She encouraged people to wear a red rose for fathers who were still living and a white rose for those who had died. Her idea caught on and spread from city to city and state to state. Finally, in 1972, Richard Nixon signed a presidential resolution that made the third Sunday in June the official date for Father’s Day in the United States. In France, things did not move so swiftly. French Wikipedia says that the holiday has been celebrated since 1968, but Quid 2001 (a printed and more reliable source of information) says that the Fête des Pères was created in France in 1952. Regardless of the exact year when the French began honoring their fathers with a special day, it takes place on the third Sunday in June, just as it does in the U.S. I thought it would be fun to see what the French do for their special men on this occasion, so I went to Google to see what comes up in a search for “Fête des Pères”. (The results are all French sites, bien sûr.) For those with little ones, three sites among the first 10 that popped up provide suggestions and instructions for gifts that children can make for their fathers as well as activities that they can enjoy while learning about Father’s Day. An educational, yet fun site where kids learn about the history of Father’s Day, homonyms of the word “père”, and songs and poems with which to entertain Papa. Instructions for numerous gifts that kids can make for their dads (with the help of Maman, of course). This site is similar to, but includes gift ideas for adolescents as well as smaller children. There are even a few recipes that the kids can try so as to impress Papa with their culinary prowess! For Father’s Day e-cards, here are a few sites to visit: There are four pages of cards from which to choose. Some are animated; others are not. All are free. This site even has a card that is “biologically correct” – see it at This site has three pages of cards from which to choose. In my opinion, they are not as appealing as those on the Internaute web site (see web address above). But they are free. This URL leads directly to an English language card recommended by a French web site. I like this card! In searching for gifts that a wife would give to her husband or her father, I found lots of sites with typical gifts such as t-shirts, pens, clocks, wines and spirits, etc. One site ( presented some interesting cufflinks from the Monnaie de Paris (Bouchons de manchette 5 centimes ), but I daresay that you might need to go out and buy the shirt that would allow the use of cufflinks first! If your gift recipient really likes cufflinks, visit this page to see a nice variety of them: Turning back to L’Internaute (the site that brought us a selection of e-cards), their internet e-store is also offering a couple of gastronomic gifts that are sure to please any dad with a sweet tooth. Visit to see La Réligieuse Papa by Dalloyau and the white chocolate golf ball by Pierre Marcolini. For those men who like to cook up their own gastronomic pleasures, what about a rolling pin shaped like two bottles of Bordeaux or a cutting board shaped like a cookbook? These are but a few of the 20 gifts featured for dad’s big day this year. Now you have enough web sites to get you started on your Father’s Day preparations à la française. Get your (computer) mouse and your kids ready and get clicking! Monique Y. Wells is co-owner of the travel planning service Discover Paris!, which is proposing the perfect Father’s Day gift for men who love Paris. For more information, please click here.
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