Father’s Day Traditions Around the World

The role of a father is an important one. Studies show that engaged, involved, and loving fathers can make a lifelong impact on their children’s physical and emotional health. Father’s Day is an opportunity to recognize the importance of fatherhood. 

 Father’s Day falls on the third Sunday of June each year in America. You celebrate the day in that way your dad would most want to spend his day — from backyard barbecues to working in the yard, to catching a baseball game or playing a round of golf. In addition to a Father’s Day gift, the holiday often includes dad’s favorite foods and activities.

In the United States, Father’s Day was first celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Washington state, thanks to Sonora Smart Dodd, the daughter of William Jackson Smart, an American Civil War veteran and widower who raised six children on his own. After hearing a sermon about the newly recognized holiday of Mother’s Day, Sonora advocated for fathers to have a day as well, suggesting her father’s birthday, June 5. However, it wasn’t until 1972 that President Nixon established the third Sunday of June as a national holiday.

The United Kingdom and Canada mark Father’s Day on the same day as the United States. Ruth Powell, a native of Wales but a Wichita transplant for the past twenty years, remembers Father’s Day in her home country is very similar to the American holiday. As a child, she anticipated picking out a perfect card and gift to ensure her father had a special day.

In Italy, Spain, and Portugal, Father’s Day is celebrated on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, the patron saint of fathers. As Joseph is viewed as the exemplary father figure in Spain, a predominantly Catholic country, making Dia del Padre and the Feast of St. Joseph the perfect pairing. Families will often mark the day by attending a church service together, sharing a large meal, and visiting the fathers in their life. Children will often cook a meal and give homemade gifts to their fathers.

In the United States, Father’s Day celebrations may differ for each kind of dad. For busy working dads, that may mean plenty of quality time with his kids, or for a stay-at-home dad, it may be a day to himself away from daddy duties! However, it is recognized that the most important part is letting your father know how much his love and support mean to you.—By Sasha Kuchinski