Father’s day 2022: When did the tradition start and why?

Father’s Day falls on 20 June 2021 this year (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Father’s Day falls on 20 June 2021 this year (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Father’s Day takes place on Sunday 19 June this year and like every year, sons and daughters will be searching for the perfect gifts to mark the occasion.

It’s a day to honour fatherhood and paternal bonds, and many mark the occasion by doing something special for their fathers or father figures.

Father’s Day is a recognised public and national holiday in some places, such as Lithuania, Estonia, Samoa, some parts of Spain, and South Korea, where it is celebrated as Parents’ Day.

But when did this tradition begin and why?

When did Father’s Day start?

Father’s Day began in the United States in the early 20th century as a result of the success of Mother’s Day.

Anna Jarvis from West Virginia created a committee to establish a “Mother’s Friendship Day” in an attempt to reunite families that had been divided during the American Civil War.

Father’s day was set up as a complement to the first successful mother’s days a few years after the celebrations began gaining traction.

The first observance of a “Father’s Day” was held on 5 July 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia, in the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South.

The holiday initially failed to achieve as much popularity as Mother’s day, but was formally recognised In 1966, President Lyndon B Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honouring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father's Day.

Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

How is Father’s Day celebrated in the UK?

In the UK, Father’s Day is not a public holiday, but follows the American rule of falling on the third Sunday of June.

According to Steve Roud, author of The English Year, which documents festivities in English life, the day only entered British popular culture “sometime after the Second World War”.

Most people celebrate the day by giving their fathers or father figures cards and presents, or spending a day out together with the whole family.

Is Father’s Day celebrated on different dates in other parts of the world?

Yes. While the vast majority of countries celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June, the day is marked elsewhere in the year in other places.

Countries that celebrate Father’s Day in March include Andorra, Croatia, Mozambique, Angola, Honduras, Portugal, Antwerp, Italy, Spain, Bolivia, Lichtenstein, and Ticino.

Some countries mark the occasion in May, such as Kazakhstan, South Korea, Romania, Tonga, and Germany.

In Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Chile, it falls on 21 June of every year, regardless of the day of the week.

Meanwhile, a handful of countries observe the day in July and August, such as Haiti, Uruguay, Taiwan, Brazil, Samoa, and South Sudan.

Latvia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea celebrate in September, while Luxembourg and Russia celebrate in October.

Estonia, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Indonesia mark Father’s Day in November, and Bulgaria and Thailand celebrate in December.