Father’s Day in the United States is a popular holiday where people celebrate and give thanks for their dads. But did you know the well-known day was started by a woman?  

Back in 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane Washington came up with the idea of setting aside a day for dad while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon.

She was interested in honoring her father William, who raised Sonora and her five siblings after their mother died while giving birth.

The first ‘Father’s Day’ featured men receiving roses from young women during church. While the holiday was originally not nearly as popular as Mother’s Day, President Calvin Coolidge gave it steam by endorsing the idea in 1924.

President Lyndon Johnson officially issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers in 1966, but President Richard Nixon actually made the holiday official, signing it into public law in 1972.

Silhouette of father teaching son how to fly an remote-control airplane while camping in Joshua Tree National Park.

It’s easy to think of Father’s Day as just another commercialized U.S. holiday. But in reality, a wide range of countries across the world have days where fathers are honored and revered.

Here are how some other countries go about commemorating their fathers.


While Russia does not have Father’s Day as traditionally understood in the U.S. sense, it does set aside February 23rd as Defender of the Fatherland Day. Originally established to honor the creation of the Red Army, the holiday is designed to honor all men in and outside of the military. Fathers can receive gifts from their spouses, children, and co-workers.


Father’s Day in France is not necessarily a formalized celebration but is often recognized on the 3rd Sunday in June. The event was reborn in the early 1900s by a lighter company that funneled advertising money to try and convince children to buy one of the devices for their father as a gift.  


Father’s Day in Thailand is important as it is traditionally celebrated on the king’s birthday. Today, the event is celebrated on July 28th to honor King Vajiralongkorn, but celebrations also occur on December 5th (the birthday of the deceased King Bhumibol). Thais usually honor their fathers by giving them a canna flower.

In Thailand, fathers are given Cannas flowers on Father's Day, which symbolize masculinity.


A German Father’s Day is usually, perhaps unsurprisingly, filled with beer. Known as Mannertag “Men’s Day,” or Vatertag, the day is usually a public holiday so men can drink and take a trip to have a ‘boy’s day out.’ The holiday takes place on the 40th day after Easter each year. The following Friday is usually a holiday so people can recover from Thursday.


Father’s Day in Mexico, held on June 16th, is a family-first affair where gifts like cards, art, or chocolates are given to fathers and male role models. One big activity on the ‘Dia del Padre’ is the Carrera Día del Padre 21K Bosque de Tlalpan race held in Mexico City. The race presents an opportunity for fathers and their kids to bond while enjoying the great outdoors.

Italy & Spain

Both countries celebrate Father’s Day on March 19th (St. Joseph’s Day), to commemorate the saint’s example of fatherhood to Jesus. In Spain, children often spend the day with their father doing some of his favorite activities and will deliver a toast or short speech about him. In Italy, the day is often commemorated with bonfires with friends, street parades, and feasts.

South Africa

Father’s Day is usually celebrated on June 16th with a large feast of meat pies, salt-cured meat, and grilled sausage. Families will also get involved with games, sports, concerts, and other performances on the big day.

If you’re in the U.S., then you probably know how Father’s Day is celebrated. And while June 16th is fast approaching, there’s still time to pick up a gift for dad or plan an exciting activity, like enjoying a round of golf, seeing a sporting event, or cooking a favorite meal together.

Or maybe you have your own unique way of celebrating Father’s Day. Regardless of country-specific customs, traditions or commercialization, the most important thing on a day like Father’s Day is spending time together and communicating the love you have for each other.

Should you find yourself in need of a spatial reprieve this weekend, save on your day booking when you use discount code: RAD DAD at checkout! (Code valid through June 16th, 2019).

Image Credits:

Featured photo: “Going Fishing” by Les Anderson via Unsplash

“Joshua Tree National Park” by Sherman Yang via Unsplash

“Cannas Flower” by Dennis Sylvester Hurd via (CC BY 2.0)

“Father and Daughter Fashion Photo” by Shopify Partners via Burst

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Kevin O'Brien

Kevin is a native Texan who is currently on the east coast. He’s spent time living and working in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and in Africa, and enjoys playing a couple of musical instruments.