Father’s Day celebrations around the world


Did you know, the first official Father’s Day celebration was held at the YMCA in Spokane Washington? Father’s Day has been a special day for the Y ever since. But not everyone celebrates father figures the same way or even on the same day. Here are some examples of different Father’s Day celebrations around the world.

Spain, Italy and Portugal

Dating back to the Middle Ages, many predominantly Catholic countries have celebrated the feast of St Joseph on 19 March as Father’s Day. Joseph is seen as a good father figure and this is why the two are celebrated simultaneously. As this event occurs during Lent, the celebrations are usually meatless affairs and father figures are honoured with small gifts.

United States of America

Father’s Day celebrations initially began in Spokane Washington, when Sonora Smart-Dodd, inspired by the American Mother’s Day celebrations planned a day to honour fathers. Fearing that the day would become over-commercialised if nationally recognized, Father’s Day didn’t become an official holiday until 1972. Celebrated every year on the third Sunday of June, families come together over a special meal or give their father figures gifts.


In Mexico, Father’s Day is known as Día del Padre and celebrated on the third Sunday in June (same as the United States). In addition to giving gifts and celebrating, many families choose to participate in the Carrera Dia del Padre or Father’s Day Race, a 21km run around Mexico City.


Russia celebrate Defender of the Fatherland Day as Father’s Day. The holiday, held on 23 February, initially celebrated current and former members of the armed forces, however has evolved to become a day to celebrate all men. The day is celebrated with fireworks, laying of wreaths to commemorate soldiers and men receive gifts from their families.


In Germany, Father’s Day or Männertag (Man’s Day) is always celebrated on Ascension Day (40 days after Easter). The day is an important one in the Christian calendar as it celebrates Jesus returning to the Holy Father, however the day transformed in the 1700s to one that celebrated fathers. Families would ride in to town on wagons and the man with the most children would be awarded a prize – usually a ham. Nowadays, groups of men celebrate the day by going on hiking tours with one or more wagons called ‘bollerwagen’ that are pulled by members of the group. Beer, wine and traditional foods are brought along in these wagons to be consumed throughout the day.


In Australia, Father’s day is celebrated on the first Sunday of September. Families give gifts to the father figures in their lives and many celebrate with breakfast in bed. YMCA Victoria uses the day to honour the role that fathers and father figures play in parenting through the Victorian Father of the Year award. Others spend the day with their family or friends at the YMCA Father’s Day Fun Run, where running/walking around the tan raises much needed funds that go towards building resilience in young people. Register today!

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