Americans celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of every June. This holiday celebrates fathers and fatherhood in general, including father figures such as guardians and grandfathers. The occasion is marked by giving a gift to one’s father or spending time with him. It is a time set aside to value a father’s role in one’s life and to reflect upon paternal bonding.
Fathers are usually given gifts in the realm of home improvement, electronics, and outdoor tools. There are no official ways to celebrate Father’s Day, but many children also celebrate with a phone call, meal out, or a family gathering honoring all fathers within an extended family. This day is a busy one for restaurants. In the U.S., some wear a red rose to honor their father, but a white rose if he has passed away.
Some churches hold Father’s Day services or integrate the theme of fatherhood into the Sunday service. One of the first religious Father’s Day services was held in 1908 in Fairmont, West Virginia. Grace Golden Clayton, a member of the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, had recently lost her father in a mining accident, which killed 250 fathers total, resulting in about 1000 children without fathers. Clayton made a suggestion to hold a service in remembrance of these fathers. Some churches’ Father’s Day service revolves around the idea of God as a father.
This holiday is the complement of Mother’s Day, which takes place in May. Father’s Day was established in early 20th century America to correspond with this celebration. The holiday was considered casually by many people, but the main innovator was Sonora Dodd. Dodd held the first significant Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington in 1910, held at the Spokane YMCA center. Dodd’s own father fought in the Civil War and then raised six children on his own in Spokane. When Dodd listened to a Mother’s Day sermon at her church, she considered the absence of her own mother, who had died in childbirth delivering her sixth child, and her Father’s valiant efforts of raising the children on his own, believing there deserved to be a holiday honoring fathers.
Several more celebrations were held in Spokane, but the tradition stopped when Dodd left for school in Chicago. When she returned, she took up holiday promotion, but this time nationally. Her strategic efforts included working with business groups that would profit from such a holiday, such as men’s clothing companies and tobacco companies. Many trades were seeing profits from Mother’s Day. However, commercial promotion of the holiday led to many believing it was shallow, as even Dodd’s Father’s Day Council was founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers.
President Woodrow Wilson wished to make the holiday official, speaking at the 1916 celebration in Spokane, but its commercial nature caused Congress to not pass the bill. President Cooling also made an attempt. It was not until Margaret Chase Smith, a senator from Main, stated that it was unfair to honor mothers and not fathers in 1957. President Johnson finally issued a proclamation in 1966 and Nixon made the holiday official in 1972.
Internationally, Father’s Day is often associated with International Men’s Day, which honors males who do not have children. Many countries’ celebrations do not differ from the United States’ traditions except for the date. Unless the holiday is associated with religious tradition, it is not usually recognized as a public holiday.
In Australia, YMCA Victoria presents the Local Community Father of the Year award throughout 32 municipalities. Germany has one of the most unique celebrations. It takes place on Ascension Day, which is forty days after Easter. Men’s Day is celebrated at the same time in some regions, which is a holiday marked by groups of men to go hiking large wagons holding alcohol and food and then often consume to the point of drunkenness. However, many Father’s chose to celebrate with their families instead. Some will take the day off in order to have a long weekend for rest or a vacation.
Many countries with a large Catholic community honor godfathers and saints who were father figures. Brazil’s holiday honors Saint Joachim on the same day as the Catholic celebration for godfathers, who was a patriarch of the family. Brazil’s holiday honors Saint Joseph in order to celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker on the same day. Honoring St. Joseph on Father’s day is common within the religion, as he is the step-father of Jesus Christ, his legacy. Many churches celebrate with a special service and a feast.
Russia’s Defender of the Fatherland Day, also observed in other countries, such as the Ukraine and Tajikistan, honors the Red Army establishment during the Russian Civil War, which was the revolutionist group made up of many peasants and workers. The holiday began as a celebration of the armed forces but evolved into a holiday celebrating men in general, including fathers.
A native Hindu and Buddhist community in Nepal honors the holiday by going to the Shiva Temple while others go to Bahal in order to honor deceased fathers. The practice of Thailand’s Father’s Day has diminished, but citizens used to widely celebrate by giving fathers the masculine flower, the canna, and wear yellow to honor the king, a father figure for the country. It takes place on the day of the current king’s birthday.
Facts about fatherhood
- While Mother’s Day holds the record for most phone calls, Father’s Day has the most collect calls
- In America, observers spend over $1 billion every year buying gifts for their father.
- Hallmark considers Father’s Day to be the fifth largest card giving holiday.
- Children whose fathers are involved in their life in a beneficial way tend to do better in school and stay out of trouble.
- Scientists polled over a thousand adults to find that 28% felt that their fathers had the most influence on their lives, 53% chose their mothers and 15% credited both parents the same amount.
- About 80% of post WWII children grew up with two biological married parents.
- 24 American children live without their biological father. This is about 35%.