With Father’s Day being just around the corner (16th June in the UK!), many of us will be planning a day of celebration in honour of our dads, step-dads, granddads and male figures in our lives; but few of us are aware of how or where the tradition began.
When her mother died during childbirth, 16 year old Sonora Smart Dodd was left to assist her father in raising her 5 younger siblings, including the newborn baby; Marshall – feeling the need to recognise her father’s contributions Sonora made it her mission to achieve a nationally recognised holiday honouring dads.
Initially intending for the new annual Father’s Day to take place on her father’s birthday – 5th June, religious leaders in the town felt they needed longer to prepare for the celebrations and decided that the annual Father’s Day celebrations should be held on the third Sunday in June – and so Father’s day (as we know it) was born; taking place for the first time on 19th June 1910!
Many countries including the UK still celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June, but that is not the case everywhere….
Each year on the third Sunday in June, Mexican families take to the streets to honour their fathers, granddads, brothers or uncles in a show of respect to the father figures in their lives.
The annual Carrera Día del Padre 21K Bosque de Tlalpan half marathon is held in Mexico City and families participate in a number of activities honouring dads throughout the day; including a famous father and son race.
Following the day’s festivities, carnival-like parties are held in the streets with traditional Mexican food, music and dancing.
Say it in Spanish - Feliz día del padre
Originally observed as a day to honour the country’s military – the Defender of the Fatherland Day was first celebrated around the time of the First World War and is marked with a public holiday, held annually on 23rd February.
The country celebrates its men and their work within the military with parades and street parties, while private celebrations usually consist of a home-cooked meal, and although not an official ‘Father’s day’, fathers receive gifts from the children and women in their lives, including mothers, sisters and aunts, as well as from their female colleagues.
Say it in Russian - Поздравляю с днем отца (Pozdravlyayu s dnem ottsa)
Celebrated on Ascension Day (40 days after Easter) Father’s Day or Männertag is a public holiday in Germany, which can be traced back to the 18th Century.
German fathers do not celebrate the day with their children; instead it is customary for the fathers to participate in men-only mountain walks, in which they drag small wagons filled with alcohol and traditional German foods to celebrate in the woods with their mates!
Say it in German - Alles Gute zum Vatertag! or Frohen Vatertag
In Thai culture, the late monarch King Bhumbibol Adulyade is considered the father of the nation, and as such Father’s Day in Thailand falls on his birthday - 5th December.
Traditionally the people of Thailand would dress in yellow on Father’s Day; however, following a steady decline in his health, many Thai people chose to wear pink in honour of the ailing king (in Thai culture, pink is considered an auspicious colour that promotes good health!) and consequently have adopted the tradition of wearing pink on Father’s Day.
Traditionally, Thai children gift their Fathers and Grandfathers with Canna Lilies- considered in Thailand to be a masculine flower.
Say it in Thai - สุขสันต์วันพ่อ (Sook-san-wan-por)
In 1953, Brazilian publicist Sylvio Bhering introduced Father’s Day to Brazil as means of creating a new holiday aimed at consumers – the following year, Father’s Day was celebrated in Brazil on the second Sunday of August (the date on which it is still celebrated today!) to honour St Joachim, father of Mary and patron saint of fathers and grandfathers.
Brazilian fathers are honoured with gifts of food and drink, and are often celebrated with big all-you-can-eat barbecues known as churrasco.
Say it in Portuguese - Feliz dia dos pais!
As with all cultural festivals in Nepal, Father’s Day or Gokarna Aunsi is based on the lunar calendar and falls on the dark fortnight in either late August or early September.
Besides the traditional gifts of food, children perform a spiritual ritual in which the sons will touch their father’s feet with their heads and daughters will touch their father’s hands with their heads.
In Nepal, those without fathers traditionally complete pilgrimages to pray to the Hindu deity Shiva and perform the Hindu ritual of Sraddha, wherein they honour their deceased loved ones with offerings of food.
Say it in Nepali - पिता दिवसको शुभकामना (Pitā divasakō śubhakāmanā)
Known as 父の日(Chichi no hi), the Japanese celebrate Father’s Day on the 21st of June.Traditionally marked with a meal of seafood, Father’s Day is seen as an opportunity for children to thank their father’s for their hard work throughout the year.
Traditional gifts include luxury food items such as Waguy beef and sake, as well as small, meaningful, home-made gifts of origami, wine & beer glasses or sweets.
Say it in Japanese -幸せな父親の日 (Shiawasena chichioya no hi)
Held halfway between Mother’s Day and Christmas due to an absence of holidays around this time of year, and to avoid ‘holiday fatigue’; Australian Father’s Day is celebrated on the first day of spring – the first Sunday in September!
Thanks to its placement within the warmer months, Australian dads typically celebrate with picnics in the park or trips to the beach.
It’s estimated that Australian’s spend over $660 million on Father’s Day every year!
Although New Zealanders share their Father’s Day with their Aussie neighbours, this has not always been the case! The first recorded Father’s Day in New Zealand was celebrated at St Matthews Church, Auckland on 14th July 1929.
After getting off to a slow start, the celebrations began to become popular among New Zealanders during the Second World War as many fathers were away fighting with no guarantee of their return.
Today, Father’s Day in New Zealand is celebrated with family meals and the giving of gifts.