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Why is Father’s Day celebrated in June?

The annual celebration of fatherhood takes place on Sunday 20 June this year, but how old is the tradition of paying thanks to dads across the world?

DIY gift ideas for Father's Day

This year Father’s Day falls on Sunday 20 June, the date used to pay tribute to fathers and father figures. The exact date changes from year to year but it is always celebrated on the third Sunday of June in most countries.

Now that pandemic restrictions have eased across the United States millions of people will be hoping to use the day to spend time with loved ones and thank their dads for everything they do. But how old is the tradition and why is it celebrated in June?

When was the first Father’s Day celebration in the US?

While countries around the world have various centuries-old celebrations of fathers, the US’ history is more recent. It is thought that Father’s Day in America was started by a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, who wanted to pay tribute to her father.

William Smart, a Civil War veteran, raised Sonora and her five brothers after their mother had died in childbirth. It was apparently while attending a Mother’s Day sermon with her father at their local church that Sonora realised there was no equivalent for male parents.

The first Father’s Day was celebrated in 1910, and was endorsed by the YMCA of Spokane and the Ministerial Alliance. Sonora had wanted the date to be 5 June, her father’s birthday, but after some delays in the planning it was pushed back to Sunday, 19 June, 1910. Wanting the celebration to remain on a Sunday, it was decided that the date would remain on the third Sunday in June for subsequent years.

When was the first national Father’s Day?

The first presidential approval came in 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson sanctioned the celebrationsand even visited Spokane to join the tributes three years later. President Calvin Coolidge also publically supported Father’s Day in 1924 but it was another 42 years before the celebration was made official.

In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day with a presidential proclamation and in 1972 President Richard Nixon established it as a permanent day of national observance.

That holiday is still in place today and is celebrated all across the country. To mark the enormous impact of the celebration, the Dodd family home was added to the Register of Historic Places in 2010, on the 100-year anniversary of that first Father’s Day celebration in Spokane.


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