Father’s Day: Who celebrates today and why

Father’s Day is a celebration observed worldwide, but where did it start? Here is the story.

Father''s Day
The date when Father's Day is celebrated varies from country to country [Getty Images]

Father’s Day is being celebrated in many countries the world over on Sunday, recognising the contribution that fathers and father figures make to the lives of families and children. 

But where does it come from and when is it celebrated in different parts of the world? 

When is Father’s Day? 

Father’s Day varies from country to country. In Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States it is celebrated on the third Sunday of June.

It is also observed on the same date in Qatar, Argentina, France, Greece, India, Ireland, Mexico, Pakistan, Singapore, and Venezuela.


In Germany, Father’s Day is marked 40 days after Easter, while Australia and New Zealand celebrate it on the first day of September.

Russia continues the Soviet tradition of celebrating “Man’s Day” on Defender of the Fatherland Day – February 23 – which marks the first mass draft into the Red Army.

In Thailand, Father’s Day is on December 5 – the birthday of late King Bhumibol, who is considered the father of the nation.

China celebrates Father’s Day on August 8 – the eighth day of the eighth month – because the word for eight in Chinese is “ba” and the term for father is “ba-ba”.

Egypt, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Syria and the United Arab Emirates mark the celebration on June 21, coinciding with the summer solstice, while in Brazil fathers are honoured on the second Sunday of August, in honour of Saint Joachim, the patron saint of fathers.

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What is the story behind Father’s Day?

The appreciation of fatherhood dates back to at least 1508, when history’s first mention appeared in Southern European tradition.

In the US, Father’s Day was not celebrated outside Catholic traditions until the 20th century.

The date finds it origins when Sonora Smart Dodd, the daughter of American Civil War veteran William Jack Smart, was 16 years old and her father became a widower and was left to raise his children alone.

According to reports, in 1909, Dodd was listening to a Mother’s Day sermon when she realised the need for a day to celebrate fathers, including her own. 

Inspired, Dodd drew up a petition for the first Father’s Day, which she said should be celebrated on her father’s birthday in early June.

Dodd convinced several local church communities to participate, but they pushed the date to late June, giving them more time to prepare. 

She continued her mission, determined to elevate Father’s Day to the status of a national holiday. 

In 1970, the US Congress passed legislation on Father’s Day’s national status, and President Nixon signed the resolution into law two years later, recognising it nationally.

Today, the celebration has become an important commercial event with gift ideas and promotions showing up in shopping centres in the build-up to the day. 

According to MuchNeeded, in the UK and the US, 75 percent of men are expected to celebrate the occasion this year.

Source: Al Jazeera