What Is Father’s Day All About?

By | August 17, 2016

Ever wondered what the significance of this special day? Just what is Father’s Day all about and how did it begin? There must be some story behind this day but what is it?

Well, firstly as the name suggests Father’s Day is a special day where we honor and celebrate our father. Let me explain it all to you here.

Father and Son

This day also celebrates stepfathers, father-in-laws and guardians, eg. foster parents. It is a day to recognize all fathers contributions to their families. Besides buying our dads a card, we will also spend money on a gift such as alcohol, CDs, DVDs or a gadget for them.

In the US in 2015 Americans spent a staggering $13 billion for their fathers. This falls short though on the $21 billion that was spent for Mother’s Day.

Before I begin to tell you the origin of Father’s Day!

The answer to this origin story is not quite straight forward. I will though try to make sense of it all for you in this post. But before I do begin I just wanted to quickly explain why I have included the origins of Father’s Day on a genealogy website.

As I have researched my ancestry over a number of years now I have grown to appreciate my family more. Not only have I grown to appreciate the family around me but also my ancestors.

They would have endured a number of sacrifices, from finding work to maybe traveling hundreds of miles to start a new life.

Credit:   Ancestry

When you begin to research your ancestry you may first be interested in tracing as many branches as you can. I know because that was my intent when I first started.

But then I wanted to know the person behind the name, dates and places that I had collected.

I looked at historical maps, read up on old occupations and even checked out newspaper archives. I started to appreciate my ancestors a whole lot more then.

I also grew to wonder just how my ancestors met. But also importantly if it wasn’t for the decisions that they made in life and the encounters that occurred to them then we may not be here today.

It’s definitely worth stopping for a moment and thinking about.

Special Dates:

Father’s Day (Canada/UK/US) – 3rd Sunday of June

Father’s Day (Australia) –  1st Sunday of September

==> Click Here To Check Out Other Special Family Days <==


When Did Father’s Day Start?

Today we owe the spread of this global holiday thanks to America where it really began to take off in the early 1900s. But there is evidence that it did in fact begin much earlier than this.

A young Babylonian boy named Elmesu 4,000 years ago carved a Father’s Day message on a clay card. On this card he wished his father good health and a long life.

Ancient Babylon

There is the suggestion that this day originated by the pagans from the 11th Century. They worshiped the sun, which was seen as the father of the universe. Some people reckon that because the June solstice and Father’s Day occur at the same time of year that there must be a connection.

But this is probably a coincidence.

Fathers were celebrated around the turn of the 15th Century by Catholic Europe. This special day was observed on the feast day of St Joseph on March 19th. St Joseph is thought of as the fatherly nourisher of the Lord.

This custom was brought over to America by both Spanish and Portuguese.


Father’s Day In America

The modern incarnation of this national holiday began in America, but there are two theories as to how it all began. The first theory is that as a result of a mining disaster in Monongah, West Virginia in 1907 a lady named Grace Golden Clayton lobbied for a church service to honor fathers the following year.

In this disaster 362 local men lost their lives. Grace wanted her local Methodist ministers to pay tribute to the 250 dead fathers, as well as to her own father.

Mother's Day in America

The second and most probable theory is that it began in Spokane, Washington in 1910 by a lady named Sonora Smart Dodd. As a result of listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909 she wondered why there wasn’t a special day for fathers.

She was inspired by her own father who had to raise six children when their mother died during childbirth. Like Clayton, Dodd also lobbied her Methodist ministers.

She also gained support from the local Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), shopkeepers and government officials as well.

Modern Day Father’s Day began in 1910 in the US!

As a result all fathers were celebrated on June 19 1910 in Spokane. This celebration then spread over America and by 1916 President Woodrow Wilson approved of this service.

In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge also supported this day to remember fathers, although he did not enforce this. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s there were calls though to put an end to both Father’s Day and Mother’s day.

Pro-Parents’ Day groups wanted a single holiday, Parents Day, to celebrate both parents on just one day. Their momentum though gave way due to the depression that hit America in 1929.

Both retailers and advertisers wanted to keep this custom so that they could sell their goods and for their businesses to survive those hard economical times.

Later at the beginning of the Second World War advertisers also wanted to use this day to celebrate and honor American troops. As well as to make a profit.

It wasn’t until 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation to declare that the third Sunday of June would be a day to celebrate fathers. Six years later in 1972 President Richard Nixon then established a permanent national observance on this day in June.


When Is Father’s Day?

Globally this day of celebration is largely observed on the third Sunday of June, thanks in part to the United States. But there are countries where a different day of the year is observed. As mentioned above March 19 is St Joseph’s Day and is a day to celebrate fathers for a dozen countries.

The World

Australia though celebrate their fathers on the first Sunday of September. The reason why Australia does not follow the same day as most of the world is down to commercialism.

The Queen’s birthday is celebrated in June in Australia. So as Father’s Day would be too close to this then it was subsequently moved to September. This is a quiet period of the year so it would naturally be more profitable for them the retailers.

Why not check out other dates that countries all over the world celebrate Father’s Day.


Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

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If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

30 thoughts on “What Is Father’s Day All About?

  1. ToveL

    Hi, and thanks for sharing information about Fathers day.
    I haven’t thought about this day before and didn’t know it was a tradition worldwide. Is Fathers day a holiday? I don’t think we in Norway take som time off due to this day. We celebrate Fathers day on the second Sunday in November.

    13 billion is a lot of money spent on such a day but 21 billion on Mothers day is breathtaking. I like to celebrate these days to honor our father and mother. They deserve this day.

    Thanks for giving me more insight in this day.

    Tove

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      It is interesting the story behind Father’s Day. As this day falls on a Sunday it isn’t a holiday as such, as generally most people are off work on this day. But it is recognised by the government as a day to celebrate Fathers.

      Reply
  2. sam

    Great comprehensive article!! I’m always curious as to how these different traditions start. I see you mentioned mothers day and that it was already in place before fathers. When did that one come about? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      I was surprised when exploring this topic at the different origin stories there were. It is quite interesting how it all began. I will be exploring how Mother’s Day started in my next post, so please stay tuned. Thank you.

      Reply
  3. Jeremy

    I never before wondered about the history of Father’s day but seeing you explain it is very interesting. I guess growing up being used to it you take it for granted. It is crazy that it could have started over 4,000 years ago. A lot of dad’s have come and gone during that time!

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      There have been a few cultures who did celebrate this day, but it has only been a recent recognised event.

      Reply
  4. lizp

    First of all, let me start by saying I think your website is very interesting! What a great idea, creating a website about this topic.

    It’s very interesting to know the origins of Father’s Day. I never really thought about, but I love finding out details like this. Never know when I can use what I’ve learned in conversation, or in an English lesson!

    Thanks again.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you for finding my website interesting. I am glad that I went ahead and created a website that I am passionate about.

      As Father’s Day is coming up shortly here in Australia I thought it would be interesting to find out what the origins of this event were. It is an interesting story that I wanted to share. Stay tuned as I will be exploring Mother’s Day very soon

      Reply
  5. Ted

    Interesting how a lot of our Holidays are more about commercial profit than keeping a real emotional thought alive. Great article.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      These holidays have become quite commercialised, although in the past they were always like that. It is important for us though to remember why these days are celebrated, their true meaning behind them. The same goes for Christmas. So much money is spent on this festive period and the true meaning must always be remembered.

      Reply
  6. Xulfeh

    Hello there,

    Thank you for sharing this article. I must say ive never really thought about the origins of fathers day, but that was an interesting read.

    And I had absolutely no idea it was an actual holiday in the US, or that SOO much money was spent on it, that’s crazy.

    Its just a day here in the UK, no holiday or anything. Think we could do with following suit and make it one lol

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      I thought it was an interesting topic so I’m glad that you liked it.

      It’s ridiculous just how much is spent on it. And I would imagine there would be quite a fair bit on it in the UK. Not as much as Mother’s Day mind you

      Reply
  7. Michel

    Interesting that yet another day like fathers day comes from pagan origins. Other special holidays including Easter, Christmas, Halloween also stem from pagan celebrations.

    My personal view is although these occasions are fun, they are just a money making racket, and we all get exploited horribly by retailers. Your article is pretty neutral but what are your thoughts here.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you for enjoying the article. I am of the same opinion that Father’s Day isanother money making event, just like Easter, Christmas and Halloween. But we need to remember the true meaning behind all of these.

      Reply
  8. Matt's Mom

    Wow, interesting article on Father’s day. I never really thought about it and when it began, but it appears it has been around a while. I am a single parent where my son has no father in his life. I always try to tell him that he needs to celebrate me as his father on this day. He doesn’t agree since I am female LOL. Anyway, I think it is a great way to thank those who raised us and took care of us.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      That’s a lovely thought for you to be celebrated on Father’s Day, too bad though that your son doesn’t agree.

      Reply
  9. ches

    What an interesting post. I knew that father’s day came from the US but I didn’t know there was so much history about it.
    Being rather cynical, I thought it could be to do with getting money out of customers, so it was a surprise to me that the tradition could have ancient origins.
    We have so many different ‘days’ now. Teacher’s day, Grandparent’s day and would you believe Boss’s day!
    I think Mother’s day and Father’s day are the most important to celebrate, with perhaps Grandparent’s day coming a close third. They do so much for us, we do need to recognise their support and unconditional love. Great article. Ches

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      For me I like learning about the origins of these special days. By doing this you will learn the true meaning behind them, and not the money making that it is today. You will value the day more and appreciate it.

      Thanks for letting me about Teacher’s Day and Boss’s. I think I have heard of Nurses’s Day as well. I hope I have included all the different family members days in this post. I believe I have.

      To me Grandparents Day comes a close third as well. They are important member of any family

      Reply
  10. Nick Caruso

    First of all 2015 there was 13 billion spent for fathers, Wow! That truly is amazing. Secondly I like how you laid out all of the information. It makes it super easy to read and enjoy. I did learn quite a lot more than I expected to. I love celebrating fathers day with my dad 🙂 it is always a good feeling seeing the smile he gets.

    Reply
  11. Trisha

    Great work! The article is a very interesting read. I never really thought or wondered where Father’s Day or Mother’s Day originated from. Now your article has me wondering why isn’t there any other days that would honor both parents together or for the step parents. Would be very interesting to read about that.

    Reply
  12. Jennifer

    Hi 🙂
    I’m one of those people that always likes to learn. The topic is never as important as the information. After reading articles like this I always smile and think to myself “well who would’ve thought…”
    I had no idea that Father’s Day was thought, by some, to go as far back as Babylonian times. The story of the boy with the clay card is so sweet. I knew that some could find connection to the pagans, though I personally thought that many of our appreciation holidays originated with Pagans.
    It’s a shock to me that Fathers Day was officially recognized as a holiday more than a half a century after Mothers Day. It’s strange to me that it was even argued over to get rid of two separate holidays and, instead celebrate parents day. Now that I’m a parent I wish there was just one holiday because it seems that these days one parent is doing the job of both in most households.
    Thank you for this article I love learning new things and now I have something new to teach my kiddos when they come home.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      I’m like that as well. I love to learn. I always find it fascinating to learn new things and think we’ll I never knew that.

      Actually there is a Parents Day and also. Respect for Parents Day. There is in fact a day for all members of the family. Check this page – Special Family Days. I was quite surprised when I was researching this topic just how many days there are

      Reply
  13. Hal's Review of Body Weighing Scale Ebsite

    Hi Owain,

    Wow. The story of Fathers Day is quite fascinating. I never knew how many theories were floating around as to when it first started. I had just assumed it was similar to Mothers Day – which as you probably know is actually a kind of tragic story.

    Regretfully, my father is gone now, and I wish I had asked him a lot more questions about our own genealogy while he was alive. I’ve been able to piece together some things from other family members – ironically, at funerals, where the cousins would all sit around telling each other stories passed down from our parents, aunts and uncles.

    I find this site to be very informative and I appreciate the info here. I’ll be back!

    Thank you,
    Hal

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      The story behind Father’s Day is certainly interesting. It would be great for you or someone else in the family who can record these stories. My Top 20 Family History Interview Questions post will be of use.

      I am glad that you like this site. I am adding more interesting posts all the time so please keep checking for updates

      Reply
  14. Reyhana

    Such great information for Father’s Day. I never knew ho that started so thanks for writing a post on it. When I was little, I actually preferred to celebrate it rather than Mother’s Day. I loved my mom of course, just as much as my dad, but I was daddy’s little girl, first born of the family.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Aww that’s lovely that you were daddy’s little. As I am a father to a beautiful daughter she is and always will be daddy’s little girl

      Reply
  15. Arthur Siew

    This is quite a surprising history of Father day. I do think that father is just as important as mother, they complete each other.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Yes, this is another interesting origin story. Everyone knows about these days but no one really knows the origins. That’s why I thought I would feature it on this site.

      Reply

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