The history of Father’s Day | Sunday Observer

The history of Father’s Day

19 June, 2022

Father’s Day is an opportunity to honour the heroes of our lives. Celebrated in many countries on the third Sunday in June, it has had a lengthy history, all the way from the 16th century or possibly even before.

For centuries, the Eastern Orthodox Church has declared the second Sunday before the Nativity as the Sunday of the Forefathers to commemorate the ancestors of Christ starting with Adam and emphasising the Patriarch Abraham, to whom God said,

“In thy seed shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed”

*Genesis 12:3, 22:18

This can be seen as the starting point of a veritable celebration of fatherhood.

St. Joseph

A customary day for the commemoration of fatherhood in Catholic Europe is known to date back to at least 1508. It is celebrated on March 19 in some countries.

This day is also known as the Feast Day of Saint Joseph (referred to as the fatherly “Nourisher of the Lord” and the “putative father of Jesus”) in Southern European tradition.

This celebration was brought to other parts of the world such as America by the Spanish and the Portuguese. The Catholic church actively supported the celebration of fatherhood on St. Joseph’s Day from either the last years of the 14th century or the early 15th century, apparently on the initiative of the Franciscans.

Therefore, it is obvious that Christians were the pioneers in commemorating Father’s Day in honour of all the protectors, advisors and inspirational people who always try to make their children’s lives brighter.

Sonora Smart Dodd

Women such as Sonora Smart Dodd have also played a highly influential role in pushing for the celebration of Father’s Day to be publicised; she convinced the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) of the USA, to set aside a Sunday to celebrate the immense duty fathers do to produce meaningful and wholesome personalities who will be able to serve society effectively.


What must be acknowledged is that in today’s society, the tasks which were shouldered by fathers have been somewhat taken upon by the mother as well.

Partly, this change is due to the evolution of society throughout the past few centuries; there are no longer huge armies of workers toiling away in industrial factories, while women too don’t spend hours hand-stitching and hand-washing the family clothes.

The modern role parents play in a family has changed so that mothers and fathers are partners, each making more or less an equal effort in working for the development of family, and thus society.

The backbone

However, this does not mean that the importance of celebrating and respecting fathers has reduced in any way throughout the decades. They still continue to be the backbone of every successful family, and we must keep that in mind on this Father’s Day, which will be falling on June 19 (today). Just remember those sacrifices a father makes to build a family.

Be grateful to your dad for that unrivalled dedication he makes to let you step into society, whole.

However, busy you may be, please spend some time with your dad to strengthen that unbreakable bond.


Dinara Hettiarachchi

Grade 9

Ananda College,

Colombo 10