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History of Father's Day

May 25 2022

History of Father's Day

The third week of June is Father’s Day! Honoring our dads has become a yearly celebration. But have you ever wondered how the holiday came to be? It all started 100 years ago in Spokane Washington.

Sonora Smart Dodd whose mother died at childbirth thought of her single dad during a Mother’s Day church ceremony in 1909.  She proposed an official equivalent to Mother’s Day in honor of fathers everywhere. She canvassed local churches, government officials and small business owners to drum up support for her idea, leading to the nation’s first statewide celebration of Father’s Days on June 19, 1910.  Support for Father’s Day built slowly at first until President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to formally observe Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June beginning in 1924. 

Men, for the most part, continued to push back against a full-on celebration of Father’s Day since many felt the holiday was a commercial gimmick designed to shower men with gifts paid for from their own wallets. This led to a movement in the 1920s and early 30s to scrap both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in Lieu of Parent’s Day. Pro-Parents Day groups rallied yearly on Mother’s Day in New York Central Park, leading Parent’s Day activist and radio personality Robert Speer to proclaim that both parents should be loved and respected together. The movement quietly lost steam during the great depression.

Congress officially recognized Father’s Day in 1956 with the passage of a joint house and senate resolution. Ten years later, President Lyndon Baines Johnson issued a proclamation calling for the third Sunday in June to be formally recognized as Father’s Day. In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed yet another proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday.

How Father’s Day is celebrated in other parts of the world

Father’s Day originated differently in different countries. For example, in Thailand, Father’s Day is celebrated on December 5, the birthday of late King Rama IX who ruled the country for over 70 years. In Bangkok, on this day, dads accompanied by their children can take public transport for free.

The French celebrate Father’s Day because of … a lighter company, which introduced the concept to France in 1949! For their sales campaign, they created the slogan “ Our dads told us, for the Father’s Day, they all want a Flaminaria.” The slogan worked perfectly because the company increased its sales and the day was formalized in 1952, just three days after the campaign. 

Different dates for Father’s Day

  • In Belgium, it is celebrated on the second Sunday of June, a week before America.

  • In Italy, Portugal and Spain, dads are celebrated on Saint Joseph's Day, March 19.

  • In Luxembourg, fathers are celebrated in October.

  • In Germany, Father's Day is celebrated on Ascension Thursday in May.

  • In Sweden, dads are honored in November.

  • In England, Father’s day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May.

  • In South Korea, Father's Day and Mother's Day are on the same day, May 8.


Today, six in ten men in America are fathers. This means out of  121 million men, 75 million are dads. So this year on June  20th, make sure you spoil your dads or granddads with love and gifts and wish them a happy Father’s Day.

And there you have it, the History of Father’s Day on History Chip. Happy Father’s Day to all dads!