At least in the US and the UK, this Sunday is Father’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate all of the dads in your life. But have you ever wondered where the holiday came from? Or how it’s celebrated in other countries? Here are 10 facts about Father’s Day around the world.
Father’s Day wasn’t always celebrated on the 3rd Sunday in June (and in some countries, it still isn’t).
In fact, in Catholic Europe, it was originally celebrated on 19 March, which is the feast day of St. Joseph. The first Father’s Day to be celebrated in June was held at a YMCA in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910. A young woman named Sonora Smart Dodd started the tradition to honour her father, a single dad who raised six children on his own.
Of course, the holiday didn’t gain nationwide traction until she convinced the manufacturers of products like neckties and men’s clothing and tobacco pipes to get on board. But it’s nice to know that for once, behind the commercialisation, there’s a sweet story.
The American date spread around the world, and today, at least 86 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June. Portugal, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Honduras and 7 other countries celebrate on St. Joseph’s Day, March 19. Other countries have their own days – for example, Thailand celebrates on 5 December, the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
In Germany, Father’s Day is celebrated with beer and pork.
German “Father’s Day” (Vatertag) is celebrated on Ascension Day. German men traditionally celebrate by hiking out into the woods with copious amounts of beer and ham (along with other traditional German foods).