Father’s Day in Bulgaria: What happened and what we learned in 2016

Guest post by David Kiuranov, MenCare Bulgaria

This year, MenCare partners in Bulgaria – and in many countries around the world – celebrated Father’s Day on June 19. After the day came to a close, Association Roditeli’s David Kiuranov, coordinator of Bulgaria’s national MenCare campaign, looked back on the holiday’s significance and the importance of engaging men in caregiving. In this blog, he shares his reflections.

Fathers and children play outside.

When is Father’s Day in Bulgaria?

It may seem obvious to us that Father’s Day is the third Sunday of June, since MenCare Bulgaria’s “Being a Dad” campaign has celebrated the holiday on this date for four years now. But, we aren’t the only people who care about Bulgarian dads – and the third Sunday in June isn’t the only day that Father’s Day is celebrated! The National Museum of Military History (NMMH) has a long tradition of celebrating Father’s Day on June 11.

What does this all mean?

The theme of fatherhood and caregiving is gaining recognition. For example, despite some confusion over the date of celebration, Bulgarian businesses are starting to see the marketing potential in involved fatherhood. A local men’s clothing company even began offering “Father’s Day discounts” on clothing.

MenCare is not alone in recognizing the importance of involved dads. More and more people in Bulgaria are starting to ask questions about – and reflect on – how men can participate more equally in care. During our preparations for Father’s Day 2016, for example, we got in touch with new partners who were keen on further exploring the subject.

Traditions need to keep up with the times. We already celebrate Mother’s Day and Children’s Day in Bulgaria. Why has Father’s Day not been established as an official holiday? The answer lies in stereotypes. Mothers are praised for their caring role, but men are still considered the family breadwinners. We want to help Bulgarian men discover their caring potential, and to see the significance of it. And Father’s Day is a step in the right direction.

How did we celebrate this year?

As always, our Father’s Day celebrations were multiple and varied. This year, on June 19 alone, more than 60 organizations were involved in more than 28 public events throughout the country.

What was new in 2016?

During the school year, a team from Association Roditeli worked closely with a group of 16 first-grade teachers from four schools in northwestern Bulgaria. One of the main conclusions the teachers reached was that fathers are ready to be more involved; however, they need to be invited and encouraged to do so. We applied this idea in practice – with fathers as well as with organizations. For example, we approached museums and puppet theaters in Bulgaria with an invitation to participate in our Father’s Day events. After a single email, eight museums and five theaters – not an insignificant number in a small country – joined the campaign.

In fact, this year the “Being a Dad” campaign even resonated outside Bulgaria’s borders on Father’s Day. As part of the campaign, Father’s Day cards were prepared for dads of first-graders at the Bulgarian school in Aylesbury, England.

To conclude, when this year’s Father’s Day came to a close, I saw many people on Facebook – many of whom are not personally involved in the campaign – talking about involved fatherhood and caregiving. Unprompted.