Where it all began: How the YMCA invented Father’s Day


The YMCA Father’s Day Fun Run is now in its second year, so we think it’s safe to call it our new Father’s Day tradition.

But celebrating Father’s Day is nothing new to the YMCA, in fact – we actually invented it!

The tradition dates all the way back to 1910, when Sonora Dodd from Washington, USA, organised a celebration for her father after hearing a sermon dedicated to mothers.

Sonora wanted to recognise the role of dads and father figures, and organised the day to say thanks to her dad, a war veteran who single-handedly raised her and her five siblings since her mother’s passing.

Held at a YMCA in Washington, the first ever Father’s Day was all about celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds and the influence of father figures in society.

In the years since, the world has embraced Father’s Day in a range of unique ways.

It was once tradition in Germany that men would travel into town in the back of a cart, eating and drinking along the way, to meet the mayor who would award a prize to the father with the most children!

In China, they used to celebrate Father’s Day on 8 August (the 8th of the 8th), because the date can be shorted to “b? b?”, which sounds similar to the affectionate word in Mandarin for ‘daddy’.

We all have our Father’s Day traditions and every family does it a little differently. Some families plan a grand adventure for Dad, while others show their love with socks, jocks and brekkie in bed.

Here at YMCA Victoria, the YMCA Father’s Day Fun Run is the opportunity to celebrate our dads and father figures together as a community, while getting active and enjoying the food, fun and games on offer in the Event Village – and it’s all for a good cause!

Just like Father’s Day has evolved over time into a worldwide tradition, we are always coming up with new, exciting ways to spend quality time together and celebrate.

The YMCA Father’s Day Fun Run – it’s Melbourne’s newest Father’s Day tradition!

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