The history of the holiday

The origins of Father’s Day are uncertain, but the most likely theory is that it comes from Ancient Egypt—more specifically, from Osiris, who was worshipped as the divine father. Some researchers believe instead that it originated from ancient Roman festivities such as Lupercalia, traditional rites that took place on 15th February and celebrated fertility.

An American idea

The modern version of Father’s Day comes from the USA. In 1908, a woman from the State of Washington called Sonora Smart Dodd decided to dedicate one day of the year to her father, Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart. The chosen date was 19th June, her father’s birthday. The first official Father’s Day was celebrated in Spokane, Washington, in 1910.

Sonora Dodd’s idea rapidly spread all over the world. In 1914, US President Woodrow Wilson declared Father’s Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the third Sunday of June.

Dates and traditions

Father’s Day is observed almost everywhere in the world, but customs and days of celebration vary from country to country. Let’s discover together different traditions and dates!

Festa del papà

In Italy, Father’s Day falls on 19th March, the same day as Saint Joseph. The tradition of celebrating fathers on this day originated in the Middle Ages, when Saint Joseph was worshipped as the protector of workers. Over the years, the celebration took a more secular connotation, and is now an occasion to express love and gratitude for one’s father. Traditions may vary depending on the region, but, generally speaking, the day is spent with family. Children may gift a small present, such as a chocolate or a flower, to thank their fathers for their love and support.

Očeva slava (Paterice)

In Serbia, Father’s Day is celebrated on 6th January. It is a mix of ancient pagan and Christian customs and it coincides with Orthodox Christmas Eve. On this day, as per tradition, adults and children go into the woods to gather dry oak branches to burn on Christmas Day in a large bonfire, as a symbol of purification and rebirth.
Following another Serbian custom, the head of the family walks around the house three times, imitating barnyard animals. This rite is meant to ward misfortune off the new harvest and bring prosperity.


In Germany, Father’s Day is called Vatertag and is celebrated on Ascension Day—that is, forty days after Easter. It coincides with Men’s Day, Männertag. According to the tradition, groups of males go around their city pulling a “Bollerwagen”, a decorated wagon filled with food and beverages. To show their love for their fathers, children gift hand-made crafts and greeting cards.

Father’s Day in other countries
  • In Russia, Father’s Day is celebrated on 23rd February, in conjunction with Defender of the Fatherland Day. On this occasion, many cities organise competitions where fathers challenge each other to win the title of Best Dad;
  • In South Korea, Father’s Day is observed on 8th May together with Mother’s Day, making it a celebration for both parents;
  • In Lithuania, celebrates Father’s Day on the first Sunday of June, while in Denmark it’s on 5th June and coincides with Costitution Day;
  • The third Sunday of June, is Father’s Day in over thirty countries: amongst them we find USA, Canada, UK, Mexico, Japan, and many others.

Father’s Day, with its different customs and dates all around the world, is a universal occasion to show joy and affection!

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