Every year in Spain, on 19 March, the religious celebration of día de San José is recognised, Saint Joseph ‘s Day, which is also el Día del Padre, or Father’s Day, a celebration for which considerably more attention is given than that of Mother’s Day, which is a little ironic when you discover that the day is, firstly, not as historic as you might think, and, secondly, was actually created by a woman. So, what is the significance of Father’s Day in Spain?

This year, 2023, 19 March falls on a Sunday and therefore will not be a holiday in any autonomous community or city, whereas if it falls on a working day, it is a holiday normally. There are some regions that have moved the holiday to the following Monday, but not all. Interestingly this year, the celebration also coincides with Mother’s Day in the UK.

Th Spain, el Día del Padre honours fatherhood and the influence of man in the lives of his children, as an ancient tradition because Saint Joseph was the father of Jesus according to the Bible. On the other hand, in other European countries and most Latin American countries, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June and is not linked to religion.

Father’s Day in Spain takes Saint Joseph, a carpenter who took care of Jesus and his young wife Mary, as an example of man and life, which according to Christian belief was dictated by God.

In any case, whether or not it is due to religious tradition, in this Father’s Day celebration it is customary to give gifts to dad and carry out activities together, such as eating with the family.

The festive origin in Spain

In 1948, Manuela Vicente Ferrero, known by her literary pseudonym “Nely” and a teacher in Dehesa de la Villa, decided to hold a festive day at her school to entertain the fathers of her students. The idea arose in response to the celebration of Mother’s Day. That first day in honour of the fathers included mass, the delivery of gifts made by hand by the children, and a children’s festival with poetry, dances, and theatre.

Her religious convictions led her to think about the appropriateness of choosing the date in the name day of Saint Joseph, considering him a model for parents and head of the Christian, humble and hard-working family.

The idea prospered and the teacher spread her initiative the following year through the pages of “El Correo de Zamora” and “Magisterio Español”, publications for which, during an interview on the National Radio program entitled “Última hora de today”, she personally explained to the listeners, the history of that “Day”.

The idea of ​​Vicente Ferrero was propagandised by the then managing director of Galerías Preciados, José Fernández Rodríguez, who in 1953 propagated the idea with a campaign in the press and on the radio. Later a competing businessman joined, Ramón Areces, managing director of El Corte Inglés.

So, the truth is, Father’s Day is not quite the religious fiesta we might think, not as old as we might expect, was the idea of a woman, and the celebration is now an important commercial claim.

Manuela Vicente Ferrero passed away at the age of 92 in 1999.