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When Did Father's Day Start in the UK?
Blog / Chocolate / When Did Father's Day Start in the UK?

When Did Father's Day Start in the UK?

Father's Day, a day dedicated to honouring and celebrating fathers and father figures, has become a cherished annual tradition in the UK.

But have you ever wondered about the origins of this special day?

When did we start setting aside a day solely to express our gratitude and love for our fathers?

The history of Father's Day in the UK is not only a tale of cultural evolution but also a reflection of changing societal values and family dynamics.

From modest beginnings to becoming a widely recognized and heartfelt occasion, the story of Father's Day is as compelling as it is heartwarming.

When Did Father's Day Start?

Father's Day in the UK, much like in many other parts of the world, was inspired by the Father's Day tradition that originated in the United States.

However, its adoption in the UK occurred somewhat later. Father's Day began in the USA in the early 20th century.

The first known Father's Day celebration was held in Spokane, Washington, in 1910, initiated by Sonora Smart Dodd, who wanted to honour her father, a Civil War veteran.

The idea gradually gained popularity in the USA, and in 1972, it was officially recognized as a national holiday by President Richard Nixon.

In the UK, Father's Day did not become widely celebrated until the latter half of the 20th century.

While no specific date marks its first observance, it is believed to have gained popularity in the UK after World War II.

This adoption was partly influenced by American culture and soldiers stationed in the UK during the war.

The British version of Father's Day does not have the same historical roots as Mothering Sunday, an older and distinctly different celebration.

Father's Day in the UK has always been more about emulating the American tradition than arising from local customs.

By the 1970s, Father's Day had become a day of recognition across the UK.

It is celebrated on the third Sunday in June, aligning with the American date.

On this day, fathers and father figures are honoured and celebrated with cards, gifts, and special gestures of appreciation.

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What is the History of Father’s Day?

The history of Father's Day is a fascinating journey that spans over a century and crosses various cultural landscapes.

This special day, dedicated to honouring fathers and father figures, has its roots in the United States and gradually found its way into global recognition, including in the UK.

  • Early 20th Century - American Origins: Father's Day was first conceptualised in the United States. The widely accepted story is that it was initiated by Sonora Smart Dodd from Spokane, Washington, in 1910. Inspired by the idea of Mother's Day, Dodd, whose mother had died and left her father to raise six children, wanted to establish a day to honour fathers. She proposed the idea to local religious leaders, and the first Father's Day was celebrated in Spokane on June 19, 1910.

  • Rapid Spread in the USA: Although the idea was initially met with some resistance and jest, it gradually gained popularity across the United States. Various towns and cities began to observe the day, and it started to gather national attention.

  • Official Recognition: It wasn't until 1966 that President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honouring fathers on the third Sunday in June as Father's Day.

  • Adoption in the UK and Worldwide: The concept of Father's Day was introduced to the UK several decades after its inception in the USA. Its popularity in the UK grew post-World War II, largely influenced by American troops stationed in Britain.

  • Global Variations: While many countries celebrate Father's Day in a similar manner to the US and UK, some have their own traditions and dates.

  • Evolution of Celebrations: Over time, the way Father's Day is celebrated has evolved, with the modern-day festivities including the giving of gifts and cards and spending quality time with fathers.

A blend of personal sentiment, cultural influences, and gradual acceptance across different societies marks the history of Father's Day.

When is Father’s Day in the UK?

In the United Kingdom, Father's Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June each year.

This date aligns with the tradition established in the United States and followed by many other countries worldwide.

The choice of June for Father's Day is said to have originated from the original 1910 celebration in Spokane, Washington, which was held in June to honour the birth month of Sonora Smart Dodd's father.

Unlike Mothering Sunday in the UK, which has historical and religious roots and varies each year as it's linked to the Christian calendar, Father's Day has a fixed date in the annual calendar, making it easier to remember and plan for each year.

How is Father’s Day Celebrated internationally?

Father's Day is celebrated worldwide, but how it is observed can vary significantly from one country to another, reflecting diverse cultural traditions and customs.

Here's a look at how Father's Day is celebrated internationally:

  • United States and UK: In these countries, Father's Day is typically celebrated with family gatherings and the giving of gifts, cards, and other tokens of appreciation to fathers and father figures. It's common for families to enjoy a special meal together, whether at home or at a restaurant.

  • Australia: Celebrated on the first Sunday in September, Father's Day in Australia often involves outdoor activities and barbecues. Gifts and breakfast in bed are also common ways to honour dads.

  • Germany: In Germany, Father's Day (Vatertag) is celebrated on Ascension Day (40 days after Easter), which is a public holiday. Traditionally, men participate in hiking tours or outings with wagons filled with food and alcohol. It’s more of a masculine celebration, often without the immediate family.

  • Thailand: In Thailand, Father's Day is celebrated on December 5th, the birthday of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was considered the father of the nation. People wear yellow, the king's colour, and give a Canna flower, considered masculine, to their fathers or grandfathers.

  • Mexico: In Mexico, Father's Day includes family meals and festivities. The “Día del Padre” is also marked by a 21-kilometre race in Mexico City, known as the "Carrera Día del Padre 21K Bosque de Tlalpan", a popular event among runners.

  • Italy, Spain, and Portugal: Celebrated on St. Joseph's Day on March 19th, these countries honour fathers with religious celebrations followed by family gatherings and feasting.

  • Scandinavia: In countries like Sweden, Finland, and Norway, Father's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in November. Children often serve their father's breakfast in bed, and families spend time together.

  • Russia: In Russia, Father's Day is relatively new and is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. It's not as widely observed as in other countries, but it's gaining recognition.

  • South Africa: Like the UK and the US, Father's Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June with family gatherings, gifts, and special outings.

  • Japan: Father's Day in Japan is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. Children often give handmade gifts or sweets to their fathers, and families may enjoy a special meal together.

These diverse celebrations reflect the universal importance of fatherhood while highlighting the unique cultural practices of each country.

Despite the differences, the core essence of Father’s Day remains the same globally – a day to honour and appreciate fathers and father figures.

Where Can You Buy Tasty Chocolate for Father's Day?

For a delightful selection of chocolates perfect for Father's Day, Whitakers Chocolates is your go-to destination.

All dads are covered with an exquisite range of gorgeous chocolates and fudge, including Father's Day-themed chocolate bars that will make the day extra special.

Click here to see our Father's Day chocolate bars and more...

Some Notes From an Expert Chocolatier

As an expert chocolatier, one of the most rewarding aspects of my profession is seeing how chocolate plays a central role in celebrating the most joyous occasions throughout the year.

There's a unique pleasure in crafting chocolates that become part of these special moments, particularly during celebrations like Father's Day.

It's heartening to know that our carefully crafted chocolates help convey love and appreciation, creating memorable family experiences.

Whether it's a bespoke truffle or a bar of premium chocolate, each piece embodies a blend of skill, passion, and tradition.

This connection between our chocolate creations and the happiness of our customers during these celebratory times is, for me, one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a chocolatier.

Final Notes On the History of Father’s Day

The history of Father's Day is a testament to the evolving recognition and celebration of fatherhood and paternal bonds across the globe.

Father's Day has become a significant and heartfelt occasion from its humble beginnings in Spokane, Washington, as a daughter's tribute to her single father to its widespread adoption in various forms and dates worldwide.

This day not only honours the contribution of fathers and father figures but also reflects the changing societal perceptions of parenting and the important role of fathers in family life.

Whether celebrated with simple gestures, heartfelt gifts, or family gatherings, the essence of Father's Day lies in expressing gratitude and love towards fathers for their unwavering support and guidance.

As we mark this special day each year, it serves as a reminder of the diverse ways in which paternal love and care are valued and celebrated in different cultures.

The journey of Father's Day, from a local commemoration to an international observance, showcases its universal appeal and the shared human experience of cherishing paternal relationships.

It’s a day that transcends cultural and geographical boundaries, bringing together families and communities in a shared expression of respect and affection for fathers everywhere.