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Father’s Day is just around the corner, this year happening on Sunday the 21st June.

Father’s are celebrated in the UK on the third Sunday of every June (in case you have trouble remembering).

Father’s Day is about honouring all the special male role models in our life, and it’s a day that so many get a massive amount of joy from. But how did it all start?

The History of Father’s Day

Unlike Mother’s Day, which is a traditional Christian holiday in the UK, known as ‘Mothering Sunday’, the premise behind Father’s Day is a lot more modern. It also took a lot longer to become acknowledged.

Britain followed America in celebrating Father’s Day, so when the date was set to the third Sunday in June, the Brits quickly followed suit. The history of Father’s Day in America – and therefore in the UK – has a couple of different origins.

The first ever Father’s Day happened in 1908, when a West Virginian Church held a special sermon honouring fathers, after 362 men were killed in a mining accident. Parishioners gave out flowers, both red and white, to honour the living and the dead, in commemoration of all that our fathers do for us.

However, the church community here didn’t celebrate it again, and it seems that it was more linked to the mining accident than a serious attempt at a national holiday.

Sonora Smart Dodd

In 1909, the year after the ‘Father’s Day’ in West Virginia, a woman called Sonora Smart Dodd made it her mission to set up a national Father’s Day. Upset by the fact that there was a Mother’s Day, but no corresponding day for fathers,

Dodd petitioned her local community and government to change this. Originally, she wanted Father’s Day to be on June 5th, which was her own father’s birthday, as a way of honouring him. He was a Civil War veteran who had raised six children on his own after his wife died during childbirth.

Washington state celebrated its first Father’s Day in June 1910, although it was delayed until June 16th.

Father’s Day slowly spread to other states; however, it was never as popular as Mother’s Day. This is partly due to women seeming to be more sentimental, and so therefore more appreciative of gifts and expressions of thanks. Ideas such as this seem totally outdated to us now, but it was what many men thought, and the day didn’t always go over well.

WWII and Nixon

That all seemed to change in World War II, when advertisers grabbed an opportunity to use Father’s Day to promote the troops out on the field. By the time the war was over, Father’s Day was a national institution.

Richard Nixon finally declared Father’s Day a national holiday in 1972 when he signed it into law in the middle of his re-election campaign. The UK by this stage was already celebrating Father’s Day after following America’s example. Now it’s the day that we all know!


In the 1930’s in America, there was a campaign to get rid of both Mother’s Day and the emerging Father’s Day, and to have an all-inclusive Parents Day. This was quickly defeated, in part because the local economy got a boost from people buying gifts and cards for two separate events.