Farsdag, or Father’s Day, falls on the second Sunday in November in Norway. The holiday originated in the U.S., but caught on in the Nordic countries after World War II.
The American holiday is attributed to Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington in 1909. She’d heard a church sermon about Mother’s Day and decided to honor her father William Smart, a Civil War veteran, farmer and widower who had raised six kids on his own. She convinced the Spokane Ministerial Alliance to observe the first Father’s Day on June 19th, 1910. It took a while before the holiday took off—it wasn’t until 1966 that Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day, and in 1972, Richard Nixon declared it an official national observance.
In Norway, Father’s Day was first celebrated informally in 1930, following the American tradition of a June observance. The 1949 decision to make Farsdag official and move the holiday to November was commerce-related. Business owners reasoned that having it in November would boost sales during the lull before the Christmas shopping season. This practice took hold in Sweden and Norway, but Denmark decided to continue celebrating in June, along with the Americans.
Norwegian tradition is to celebrate fathers with good food, a fun activity, relaxation, family time, cards, gifts or flowers. Honoring dad doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be an expensive gift; homemade items are just as koselig (nice/cozy) as store-bought, and spending quality time together is a common way to observe the day without going overboard. Socks, a tie, or gloves are still typical presents, along with coffee mugs, and for that, the stores and the Norwegian economy are grateful.
Another way that Norway shows appreciation for its dads is through societal benefits. In addition to the mother, a father is guaranteed time off for bonding after the birth of a new baby. Paternal leave or fedrekvote/pappapermisjon allots 12 weeks paid leave for dads in Norway, and guaranteed employment afterwards.
Farsdag is November 8, 2015.