Feminisation, Amnesia or Imbalance?

Fathers day is an important day for me! Not the cheesy cards, or the supermarkets’ propensity to label ANYTHING unhealthy, fattening or alcholohic as “Ideal Fathers days present,” but the reminder of my Dad (and how much I miss him) and the focus on and celebration of what it means to be a father.
The church I happened to be at made no mention of the day at all which I found kind of sad …. and a little odd. I wonder whether a “Mothering Sunday” could pass with similar absence of reference? And if not, how can so much planning, creativity and celebration go into mums, and yet dads fail to register in any form. You either do both or neither surely?
I’m sure the church was not typical. But even so, the fact that it happened (and aside from a personal sadness) I think it’s worth reflecting on in terms of inclusivity, ecclesiology, and maybe default gender focus/bias.
Church can sometimes have a big focus on what they say but fail to notice that most of the communication happens not through what is spoken but by what is (or isn’t) in evidence.
Just musing out loud and maybe issuing a bit of a ‘shout out’ for the men.

4 Replies to “Feminisation, Amnesia or Imbalance?”

  1. The trouble is…
    Mothering Sunday is an ancient religious festival and concerned people returning to their Mother church on the 4th Sunday of Lent. This then became a Sunday when those in domestic service could return to their families for the day, often taking gifts with them. In time this became more secular.
    America began to celebrate Mothers Day – recognising mothers, their contribution to society and all things maternal – in the early 20th Century. In the UK Mothers Day is celebrated on Mothering Sunday although the two are different ‘festivals’. They are now often thought of as the same thing and many (including a lot of church goers) are unaware of the origins of Mothering Sunday.
    In the same way Fathers Day began in America at the start of the 20th Century to complement Mothers Day. It is traditionally held in June but there is no connection to the church calendar.
    Therefore in many churches, as it did in ours, it goes unnoticed.

  2. Sarah,
    Thanks for this and I mused on this difference and do agree in terms of one being ecclesiastically rooted and the other a cultural addition. Thanks for a more thorough guide to the history though, very useful.
    I’m still left with a big question though in terms of it being an important cultural day and should it just be ignored as it doesn’t have the same level of history, and with the church sometimes seemingly more feminine than balanced, does the ignoring of “Fathers Day’ either reveal or point to a discomfort with masculinity?
    Also, what about Remembrance day? Isn’t that a Commonwealth day that we’ve accepted into the patten of the year (with good reason I’d be the first to admit)
    Still musing

  3. I would see it the other way round in terms of culture v religious roots.
    The modern church celebration of Mother’s Day might share a date with the old Mothering Sunday. But in every other way it has been completely subsumed into the American Mother’s Day with the addition of a small religious veneer.
    By contrast Father’s Day actually began in the American church (after a sermon on the cultural phenomenon of Mother’s Day). So:
    Father’s Day: religious
    Mother’s Day: not so much
    Personally, I think if we are going to celebrate one, we should also celebrate the other. But both also have negative connotations for some people, so frankly I’m ambivalent to both.

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