Mexico has been a patriarchal society since pre-conquest times. Yet Father’s Day isn’t as popular in Mexico as Mother’s Day. Only about 50% of Mexican households celebrate Father’s Day, compared to 78% of households that celebrate Mother’s Day.
According to Walmart, sales are only slightly higher than Valentine’s Day (El Dia del Padre no es Tan Padre). The Mexico City tourism president says this difference in spending is because the father provides the only income for the family and therefore chooses not to spend money on himself. I don’t know about that. In our town, the women provide the main income for their families.
What I think is more likely, is that in many families, the father is somewhere else working. One study estimates 9% of Mexican households are without a father in the house. I find that figure extremely low. Another study says that nearly 35% of male immigrants to the US have children in Mexico under the age of 15. Again, I think that figure is too low. There isn’t a reliable way to gather this information from undocumented workers or those that are only temporary workers (6 months in Mexico, 6 months in the US). Those figures don’t include fathers who have gone away to work but are still in Mexico, either at the border or in larger cities.
Although, the father is still “el jefe de la familia” in the Mexican family whether or not he is living full-time under the same roof as his children there is perhaps less motivation to celebrate the holiday in his absence.
Just like in the US, Father’s Day is the third Sunday in June. Instead of gifts, most families celebrate by having Dad’s favorite meal and letting him be to watch the afternoon soccer game in peace.
Since the extremely long school year found in most of Mexico means that students are not out for summer vacation yet, most schools have a Father’s Day event the following Monday. Activities are usually planned that are a bit more dynamic than those expected for Mother’s Day. There are sack races, father/child soccer games, tree planting excursions and maybe a little bottle of tequila in the gift bag.
What are the Father’s Day traditions where you live?