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  • Martin Castle

"What we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments ..."

I had it in my head that it was going to be Father's Day on the weekend coming - no idea why as it is not something that usually crosses my mind. It wasnt part of my growing up and my dad would have been suspicious if I suddenly got him a card and a gift as a thank you - he'd assume I'd made a major *o*k-up!

Actually, this year in the United Kingdom, Father's Day is Sunday 21st June. It does not have a long tradition here but arrived sometime after the Second World War and not without opposition. In many ways it is an import from the USA.

Father's Day was not celebrated nationally in the United States until the 20th century. As a civic celebration it was inaugurated in the early 20th century to complement Mother's Day. However, the concept is a much older one and in Catholic Europe the day to celebrate fatherhood is known to date back to at least 1508. It is usually celebrated on March 19, as the feast day of Saint Joseph, who is referred to as the fatherly Nutritor Domini ("Nourisher of the Lord") . This celebration was brought to the Americas by the Spanish and Portuguese. In the Coptic Orthodox Church, the celebration of fatherhood is also observed on St Joseph's Day, but the Copts observe this on July 20 and this may date back as far as the fifth century.

As you can see it is held on various days in many parts of the world all throughout the year, often in the months of March, May and June but I quite fancy the German version.

In Germany, Vatertag is celebrated differently from other parts of the world. It is always celebrated on Ascension Day (the Thursday forty days after Easter) and it is a public holiday. In some parts of the country it is also called men's day, Männertag, or gentlemen's day, Herrentag.

In the 18th century men would be seated in a wooden cart (Bollerwagen) and carried to the village's plaza, and the mayor would award a prize to the father who had the most children, usually a big piece of ham. In the late 19th century, especially in urban areas such as Berlin, groups of men organized walking excursions with beer and ham. By the 20th century alcohol consumption had become a major part of the tradition. Many people will take the following Friday off at work, and some schools are closed on that Friday as well making a four-day-long weekend for a short holiday. Many men use this holiday as an opportunity to partake of alcohol. According to statistics alcohol-related traffic accidents multiply by three on this day!

So, it is a little way-away but here's a recipe containing many a man's favourite ingredient - time to get some practice in.!


Guinness chocolate puddings

Serves 4


150g/5oz unsalted butter, plus extra for the ramekins

200g/6½oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa), roughly chopped

90g/3oz golden caster sugar

3 large eggs

90ml/3fl oz Guinness or other stout

Clotted cream or thick double cream, to serve (optional)


1. Butter four 9 x 5cm ramekins and set aside.

2. Tip the butter, chocolate and a generous pinch of salt into a heatproof bowl. Set over a small pan of just-simmering water and stir until melted, then remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.

3. Put the sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk until pale, almost doubled in volume and thick enough to leave a trail when the beaters are lifted.

4. Gently fold in the melted chocolate and the Guinness and spoon the mixture into the ramekins, then chill in the fridge for 1 hr.

5. Heat the oven to 190°C fan/375°F/gas 6 and put a baking tray on the top shelf to heat up.

6. Place the ramekins on the hot baking tray and bake for 18 mins. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for a minute, then serve with a dollop of cream.

Word of the Day is ...

"Harken " - to give heed or attention to what is said; to listen or hear.

ps: not a nudge for a Fathers Day card & gift - I'll think you'll have made a major *o*k-up!

pps: the full quote from Umberto Eco is, I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”


"Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less." - Marie Curie
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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