Father's Day 2023: A Brief History of the Holiday

June 12, 2023

Father's Day

Father's Day is a holiday celebrated annually, where sons and daughters across the globe try to find a gift for their dad who has more money than them, won't tell them what he wants for a gift, and if he did want something, he most likely just went out and bought it already.

Kidding. Kind of. Chances are, you can relate a bit to that. But in all seriousness, celebrating Father's Day comes with a lot of history. It's celebrated differently in different cultures and families, but when it comes down to it, it's about children showing appreciation for their fathers.

In its most common iteration, Father's Day falls on the third Sunday of June. Other countries celebrate it on different dates—so read on as we talk about how the occasion started and maybe even give you some tips on finding good Father's Day 2023 gifts.

Origins of the national holiday

Since dawn, kids have thought their dads are pretty cool. Events making that sentiment official can even be traced back to ancient Babylon, where they had a type of Father's Day celebration to honor the father of the gods, Marduk. Father's Day 2023 B.C. was definitely a hit.

The Romans had a festival honoring parents, and even the Eastern Orthodox Church has been celebrating the Sunday of the Forefathers for centuries.

Father's Day is celebrated in the modern era with all kinds of traditions, including giving gifts and cards, attending church services, participating in events like cookouts and charity runs, and getting together for family meals. Some even use it to promote awareness of social issues, like parental responsibility and positive fatherhood roles.

When did the third Sunday in June become Father's Day?

As for the origins of the modern Father's Day, we can attribute it to a woman from Spokane, Washington, named Sonora Smart Dodd, who wanted to create a special day for her father—a Civil War veteran who raised his six children by himself after becoming a widow. Not a bad legacy, huh?

After hearing a sermon about Mother's Day, Sonora was inspired to create a national holiday to honor fathers and father figures. Unlike Mother's Day, Father's Day was just for the fellas.

Sonora approached the Spokane Ministerial Alliance and suggested June 5th—her dad's birthday—but the Alliance figured that might be too much glory for one guy, so they decided on the third Sunday of June. A reasonable effort still, Sonora.

The first Father's Day was celebrated in 1910 in Spokane. While enthusiasm for the holiday waxed and waned over the next few decades, it was made an official holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law as a federal holiday in 1972.

Although Sonora Smart Dodd was successful, she wasn't the first American woman to attempt to create a similar holiday. Only two years before, in 1908, Grace Golden Clayton proposed a day to commemorate and honor the men who had died in a mining accident. While she wasn't successful, it opened the door for Sonora to sneak in and get her Dad all the recognition...

Showing respect for one's father was contagious, and it ultimately spread to many different countries around the globe. From Canada and Ireland to Morocco and Sri Lanka, the third Sunday of June is the number-one day to celebrate Dad.

Father's Day celebrations around the world

Father's Day

While the third Sunday of June is the most popular date for Father's Day, each country has its way of celebrating it, from holding it on different dates to observing different traditions.

For instance, Father's Day is held on the first Sunday of September in Australia and New Zealand. Father's Day gifts are also given upside-down because, you know... it's the Southern Hemisphere.

Here's a quick rundown of some of the more interesting Father's Day traditions around the globe:

  • Germany: Father's Day in Germany is celebrated on the same day as the federal holiday Ascension Day and is also known asGentleman's Day (pretty sophisticated, right?). Traditionally, young and older men get together to go for a hiking tour while pulling a small wagon filled with wine, food, and beer. It's an opportunity not only to celebrate Dad but also to bond and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Australia: Father's Day in Australia is a time to spend quality time with one's family and give gifts and cards. Being Australian, however, they can't help but use it as an excuse to barbecue, too (sorry, Australia—that's our last joke at your expense for today). Aussies also like to participate in the Father's Day Classic, a famous charity run in many spots around the country.
  • Thailand: Thailand is the place to go if you're looking for a day to celebrate both your father and the King. Falling on December 5th, Father's Day in Thailand, is also the birthday of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Traditions include children presenting their fathers with unique canna flowers, wearing yellow (the color associated with the monarchy), and participating in public ceremonies.

"What the h*** should I get my Dad for Father's Day?" Gift ideas for Father's Day 2023

Trust Me I'm A Dad T-Shirt

Now that you've procrastinated enough by reading about Father's Day's history, it's time to buckle down and research what exactly to get your Dad this year. It can certainly be a struggle!

While we here at Famous In Real Life aren't the Hammacher Schlemmer catalogue, we can help you out by reminding you of some broad, popular categories known to please dads all over. Here they are:

  • Homemade items: If in doubt, make it yourself. Customized items, homemade crafts, and photo frames make great, inexpensive, yet meaningful gifts. Plus, Dad can't claim you cheaped out if it comes from the heart!
  • Tech gizmos: If we know anything about dads, it's that tons of them are suckers for the latest tech gadgets. Well, we shouldn't say suckers... connoisseurs, more like. Try giving him the gift of the new smart-whatever (and maybe include an "IOU tech support," depending on his level of tech-savviness).
  • Clothing and apparel: What's the only thing a dad likes better than a good old-fashioned dad joke? A dad joke printed on a t-shirt. Luckily, we've got anawesome collection of Father's Day shirts and apparel perfect for your pops. Stylish, humorous, and printed on ultra-soft, high-quality cotton.

Ultimately, the best Father's Day gift isn't just a fancy trinket—it's a personal expression of your appreciation for the unique guy who made you, you. We wish you a great time celebrating Father's Day this year—and don't forget to drop some of your newfound Father's Day history trivia!

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