Father’s Day Around the World

Roshan, Sanjay, Sunny and Rajan Sharma.

Roshan, Sanjay, Sunny and Rajan Sharma.

By Zeenat Kassam Mitha


When we think of Father’s Day, we think of celebrations honoring dads and the love and giving nature of fathers. We rejoice over paternal bonds and fatherhood, and we think about the impact fathers have made on our community. The United States is one of numerous countries that celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June, but it is a treasured day celebrated extensively on other days by other countries.

Cynthia, Jay, Amanda  and Caitlyn Horgan.

Cynthia, Jay, Amanda
and Caitlyn Horgan.

The first Father’s Day ceremony was held in Fairmont, West Virginia on July 5, 1908. Grace Golden Clayton was grieving the loss of her father, who in December 1907, passed in the Monongah mining disaster that killed 361 men, 250 of them fathers. This left close to 1,000 fatherless children. Pastor Robert Thomas Webb was asked by Clayton to honor all of those fathers. A tribute was held in Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, currently known as Central United Methodist Church. The local church did not think of promoting the event, and the original sermon was lost.

In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd heard a sermon about Mother’s Day, and she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Several local clergymen accepted the idea, and on June 19, 1910, the first Father’s Day, sermons honoring fathers were presented throughout her city of Spokane, Washington.

Kraig and Kayley Warren.

Kraig and Kayley Warren.

However, in the 1920s, the idea faded as Dodd was studying at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Dodd returned to Spokane in the 1930s and started encouraging the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level. She received support of trade groups such as manufacturers of tobacco pipes, ties and other traditional gifts for fathers.  By 1938, the Father’s Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers, promoted the day commercially.

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson gave the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, assigning the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.  In 1972, it was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law.

Father’s Day traditions in a  few countries are as follows:

Father’s Day in Australia is celebrated on the first Sunday in September. “Families get together in the afternoon and barbeque shrimp and lamb sausages,” said Bob Latham, a Fort Bend resident from Australia. “Many families swim or sail or do water sports afterwards, as there are beautiful beaches everywhere.”

Father’s Day in Argentina is celebrated on the third Sunday of June, but some have tried to change the date to August 24th to observe the day on which the “Father of the Nation” Jose de San Martin became a father.

Father’s Day in the People’s Republic of China is officially celebrated on the third Sunday of June and is not a public holiday. However, when the Nanjing governed the Republic of China from 1912 to 1949, Father’s Day was celebrated on August 8th. “This transpired because the eighth (ba) day of the eighth (ba) month makes two ‘eights’ (ba-ba), which sounds similar to ‘daddy,’” said Sugar Land resident David Yuan. “The celebrations still continue on August 8th in many areas.”

Father’s Day in Germany is always celebrated on Ascension Day. “This is the third Thursday 40 days after Easter, which is a federal holiday,” said Rustin Buck, a German teacher at Clements High School. “In some parts, it is also called Men’s Day, Mannertag or Gentlemen’s Day.”

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers!