Von der Leyen: German men shouldn’t drink on Dad’s Day

Family minister Ursula von der Leyen has risked the ire of German men by suggesting they celebrate Fathers’ Day on Thursday by playing with their children rather than drinking themselves stupid as is traditional.

Von der Leyen: German men shouldn't drink on Dad's Day
Dressing up is not obligatory. Photo: DPA

This year Männertag – known as Men’s Day and Fathers’ Day – falls on May 1, a holiday across Germany, ensuring that even more men than usual will be falling-down drunk before evening, their condition fully justified by tradition.

But now von der Leyen has tackled the tradition, telling German glossy magazine, Bunte, “I think it is awful. Men who want to be far away from their children are the final straw.”

The mother of seven children, who often posed with her hyper-photogenic, pony-riding family when she first took office, said her family celebrated Fathers’ Day differently.

She said her husband Heiko, “gets Fathers’ Day flowers and presents and gets special attention on this day.”

“A father should not be drunk in front of his children… I am in favour of reinventing Fathers’ Day as a day when they enthusiastically play with their children,” she added.

Fathers’ Day dates back to the 19th century in Germany, as a day when younger men were initiated into adult practices – smoking their first cigar, drinking themselves sick and often being taken to a prostitute to lose their virginity.

It took on particular significance in eastern Germany, when men would take a handcart of booze out into the countryside and sit in a field and drink, away from the pressures and surveillance of the city.