What Is Father’s Day All About?

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?

Father and Son

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.

How much do American’s spend?!

This day also celebrates stepfathers, father-in-laws and guardians, e.g. 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 gifts 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.

Why am I talking about 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

Find out as much as you can!

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 how did my ancestors meet. 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

==> Check Out Other Special Family Days Here! <==


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.

Ancient Babylon

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.

Originated from pagans?

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.

Mother's Day in America

Theory #1

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.

Theory #2

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.

Father’s Day in modern time!

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.

The World

As mentioned above March 19 is St Joseph’s Day and is a day to celebrate fathers for a dozen countries.

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.


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

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