June 17 – Father's Day in Guatemala and El Salvador

Posted on June 17, 2017

First there was a Mother's Day. What a good idea! Mothers are wonderful and important!

But...so are fathers, right?

American Sonora Smart Dodd was 16 when her mother died in childbirth. Dodd helped her father raise her five brothers, including the infant - and she knew just how important fathers can be!

Other folks had been inspired by Mother's Day and had tried to start a Father's Day tradition, but Dodd is the one who managed to do it.

She approached an alliance of ministers to get the word out, and she suggested her own father's birthday, June 5, as an good date to use; however, the alliance decided on the third Sunday in June. 

Many other nations follow this 3rd-Sunday-in-June tradition, but other nations have chosen other Saturday or Sundays in the spring or summer for the celebration. El Salvador and Guatemala are two countries that always have fixed-date holidays (like June 17 instead of "the third Sunday of June").

El Salvador and Guatemala have quite a bit in common aside from the same Father's Day:
* They are both small countries in Central America (which is a part of the continent of North America), and both are tropical yet mountainous, with quite a few volcanos.

Above, a volcanic crater in El Salvador.
Below, an active volcano in Guatemala.

* They were both colonized by Spain, so they have Catholicism as the most popular religion and Spanish as the official language.
* Before being part of the Spanish Empire, both were part of the Mayan Empire.
Tikal, in Guatemala, are Mayan ruins.

* They both achieved independence from Spain in 1821, they both were a part of the Federal Republic of Central America, and they both experienced political unrest and economic hardships during the 1800s and the 1900s.

* And of course, like every country, they both have places of great natural beauty!

Above, Guatemala.
Both below, El Salvador.

Here are some ways that these two nations are different:

* El Salvador is much smaller than Guatemala - and the smallest of the mainland Central American nations. It's about the size of Massachusetts, and Guatemala is about the size of Pennsylvania. 

* El Salvador only touches the Pacific Ocean, but Guatemala has a Pacific coast and a small coastline on the Caribbean Sea. El Salvador is the only Central American nation that does not enjoy a bit of the Caribbean. 

Above, the Caribbean coast, Guatemala.
Below, the Pacific coast, Guatemala.

Lencan pottery
* In addition to the Maya people, the Lenca people lived and still live in El Salvador. These people use the traditional milpa crop-growing system that produces maize (corn), beans, and squash without artificial pesticides or fertilizers. (Any one field is cultivated for two years and then allowed to lie fallow (to rest and rebuild minerals) for eight years.)

* El Salvador has a more developed economy and a more modern health care system - not good enough, yet, but better than Guatemala's.

* Guatemala has its own currency - the quetzal - but El Salvador is one of the ten countries that uses the U.S. dollar as its currency.

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