Tomorrow, June 18, the third Sunday of June, many of us will celebrate Father’s Day. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation FD is celebrated in some 70 countries around the world.
In the US, FD is commonly viewed as an opportunity to gather with family and friends for barbecues, picnics, sporting activities (e.g. baseball, golf or fishing), eat at a favorite restaurant, or attend a Broadway show. Generally, it is a fun day. In view of all the negativity we have suffered through this year such a day will be most welcome.
The idea of an annual day to recognize fathers was first proposed by Sonora Dodd a resident of Spokane, WA, in 1909. She wanted to honor her own father who had raised her and five siblings as a single parent. In her opinion, mothers had their “day,” so why shouldn’t fathers. At first, she approached her pastor about organizing a special service on her father’s birthday, June 5, but for some reason, perhaps, time constraints, the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. The initial celebration was held in 1910.
For many years the idea of a “day” for fathers did not catch on with the general public. The major reason was the fear that it would become overly commercialized like, for example, Mother’s Day and Christmas. In addition, the media was not behind the concept. Rather than support the idea, they attacked it with sarcastic and cynical articles and cartoons.
FD did, however, have its supporters. Congress debated a bill as early as 1913, but it did not pass. Presidents such as Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge supported it publicly.
Some years later, Margaret Chase Smith, a longtime influential senator from Maine, criticized the inequity of Congress’ ignoring fathers while honoring mothers. Finally, in 1966 LBJ issued a Presidential proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as FD. It became a permanent holiday in 1972.
The timing and characteristics of FD celebrations in various countries differ depending on the seasons and various traditions and cultures, as follows:
United Kingdom – It is also celebrated on the third Sunday of June. It is recognized as a day to honor not only fathers, but also other father figures, such as grandfathers and fathers-in-law. As in the US, typically, people pay a visit and give cards and gifts. Other activities might include male-only outings [golf, football (soccer), or cricket], or trips. One significant difference is that the day is not considered to be a holiday, just a normal Sunday.
Canada – Very similar to the UK. Popular activities would include going to the park, the zoo, or eating out in a restaurant.
Russia – The holiday, celebrated on February 23, is called Defender of the Fatherland Day. All men are honored, not just fathers. It began as a military celebration and is still marked by military parades.
Mexico – Celebrated on the third Sunday of June. It is marked with parties and gifts for dads and a 21 kilometer Father’s Day race.
Brazil – It is celebrated on August 2 in honor of St. Joachim, patron saint of fathers and grandfathers.
Bulgaria celebrates the day in December.
According to The Sun various countries in the Southern Hemisphere, such as Australia and New Zealand, celebrate the holiday in September.
Northern European countries, such as Norway, Sweden and Finland, celebrate the day in November.
The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans spent about $196 per person on FD gifts in 2022. This pales beside the $274 spent on Mother’s Day. Why do we spend so much more money on our mothers than on our fathers? There are many theories, but no one knows for sure?
Generally, we don’t take our dads to restaurants as we do our moms. Instead, we put them work barbecuing. The National Restaurant Association reports that FD is one of the slowest days of the year whereas MD is the busiest. Not surprising.
What are the most popular FD gifts? According to the NRF #1 is a greeting card. #2 is a special family outing, for example, taking a trip or attending a sporting event. Other popular gifts include clothes, tools, appliances and “personal care” items.
Dads, remember it is your day. Spend it however you like (as long as your wife approves).