Father’s Day Around the World: Dates and Traditions

Last updated on June 17th, 2024 at 10:32 am

In the United States, Father’s Day 2024 falls on Sunday, June 16. Some families throw a party, while others barbecue and reminisce. However, around the world, this special day differs in terms of when it’s celebrated and how. To learn more about Father’s Day around the world, keep reading this guide to the holiday created by our team here at Remitly.

The History of Father’s Day

The first-ever national Father’s Day in the United States was celebrated on June 19, 1910, but only the state of Washington celebrated it.

This first celebration of Father’s Day was inspired by a woman named Sonora Dodd. Mother to six children, she lost her husband during the Civil War. After attending church services and hearing a Mother’s Day sermon, she got the idea to create a day to pay tribute to fathers and father figures.

Dodd took her idea for Father’s Day to local shops, churches, the YMCA, and members of the government. With their help, she organized that first Father’s Day celebration.

Father’s Day has an interesting history in that other people contributed to the creation of a day to celebrate Dad. There was Grace Golden Clayton, who organized a church service in memory of men killed in a mining accident in West Virginia in 1908.

President of the Lions Club of Chicago, Harry Meek, also played a role in the history of celebrating Father’s Day. In 1915, he organized a celebration for fathers, setting the date for the third Sunday in June, the Sunday closest to his birthday.

As word about these separate celebrations in Illinois, Washington, and West Virginia spread throughout the U.S., Father’s Day became an unofficial holiday celebrated annually in more places.

Over the years, many changes occurred. At one point, people rallied to create a single holiday—Parent’s Day. Following the Great Depression, struggling retailers began advertising Father’s Day like a “second Christmas” for men with children, selling everything from pipes and tobacco to golf clubs and hats.

As the popularity of Father’s Day grew, people began lobbying to make the occasion an official holiday in the U.S. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recognized the day publicly, but Congress resisted naming an official Father’s Day holiday.

Supporters of the holiday weren’t discouraged by Congress’ lack of interest, and they continued to encourage lawmakers to adopt the holiday officially. One very vocal group was The Father’s Day Council, established in 1937 and still exists.

The efforts to lobby Washington led to President Lyndon Johnson’s proclamation making Father’s Day an unofficial holiday in 1966.

It wasn’t until 1972, 58 years after Mother’s Day became official, that Father’s Day became a nationwide holiday. President Richard Nixon signed the bill that created a holiday, especially for male parents, and the official date was set for the third Sunday in June.

Although Father’s Day is a national holiday, it isn’t a federal holiday. Government offices and schools are already closed on Sundays, but other businesses remain open. Workers typically don’t receive a paid day off the way they do for federal holiday celebrations like New Year’s Day and Independence Day.

Today, Father’s Day in the United States is celebrated on this day. People in the U.S. often celebrate by taking Dad out to eat, giving and mailing greeting cards, and purchasing Father’s Day gifts. The holiday has become a boon for retailers bringing in $17 billion in 2020 alone.

Father’s Day beyond the U.S.

Over the years, Father’s Day has spread beyond the U.S., first to the rest of the Western world and then beyond.

While international versions of the holiday still honor fathers, the calendar date and how the day is celebrated vary. For example, Father’s Day occurs on St. Joseph’s Day in many predominantly Catholic countries in Europe and Latin America. This traditional Catholic feast day honors Saint Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus Christ.

Read on to learn more about how Father’s Day is celebrated in some other different countries.

Germany – Vatertag

In Germany, fathers get the day off work to drink beer and enjoy little to no responsibility. Known as Vatertag (or Männertag), this fun-filled day for men lands on the fortieth day after Easter on a Thursday in May. 

In 2024, that day was May 9. Since the Friday after Vatertag is usually a Brückentag (bridge day), this gives fathers a four-day weekend.

Father’s Day started during the Middle Ages in Germany as a religious ceremony honoring Gott, den Vater (God, the father). It was in the 1700s that the day transformed into Vatertag, a family day honoring the fathers of each household.

The father with the most children in the village would receive a reward — often a ham. Although Vatertag fizzled out for some time, it made a strong comeback in the 19th century, being labeled as Männertag — transitioning to more of a “boys’ day out.”

Some of the most popular ways to spend Father’s Day in Germany include:

Brazil – Dia dos Pais

In Brazil, Father’s Day falls on the second Sunday in August. In 2024, that is August 11. This day, known as Dia dos Pais, began in the mid-1950s. The idea was to honor Saint Joachim, the patron of fathers and grandfathers.

Much like in the United States, children often purchase their fathers a unique gift. They also often make a gift to honor their fathers in school. Some schools like to put on special concerts or ceremonies as well. A large lunch is often prepared, and families often participate in one of many outings. 

Since Father’s Day lands on a Sunday, it is not a public holiday, and fathers do not get a day off work. Most businesses also follow regular hours.

Thailand – Wan Por

Father’s Day in Thailand is unique because it’s celebrated on December 5. This day commemorates King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the country’s longest-serving monarch. It is an official public holiday, representing the King’s birthday and Father’s Day. 

The association between King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Father’s Day developed because the King was seen by many as the symbolic father of Thailand. The people of Thailand pay respect to their fathers and grandfathers on this day, often giving them a canna flower or “dok phuttha raksa,” which is similar to a lily.

For years, nationwide celebrations would take place to honor the King. Many Thais would camp out the night before, often wearing yellow, a color that represents Monday, the day that the King was born in 1927. 

Father’s Day activities occur across the country, and the Bangkok Mass Transit System allows fathers to travel for free when accompanied by their children. This is meant to encourage family bonding time.

Costa Rica – Día Del Padre

Father’s Day is celebrated in Costa Rica on the third Sunday of June, just as Americans do. Costa Ricans celebrate the fathers who are both living and have passed on, as well as the single mothers who fill both roles. 

There aren’t any particular traditions other than family time. Some years, Father’s Day shares the spotlight with the World Cup. In 2018, Costa Rica was playing Serbia, and many fathers spent their day watching the game.

Many countries celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June, much like Costa Rica and the United States. This includes several other countries in Latin America, including Argentina, Peru, and Colombia.

Norway – Farsdag

In Norway, Father’s Day occurs on the second Sunday in November. In 2024, it will take place on November 10.

The event isn’t a national holiday in the country. However, most families still celebrate it by giving Dad the perfect present and making plans to spend time together during the day. One common tradition is to allow Dad to sleep in as late as he wants.

In Norway, many businesses close on Sunday as a standard practice. However, those that are open usually stay open for Father’s Day.

France – Fête des Pères

France celebrates their version of Father’s Day, Fête des Pères, on the third Sunday in June. As a Catholic country, France has a long tradition of celebrating fathers on St. Joseph’s Day, but Father’s Day didn’t become a national institution there until after World War II.

Interestingly, the holiday may only have caught on because of the efforts of a company called Flaminaire. They manufactured lighters and struggled to market their products after the Second World War.

The owners of Flaminaire came up with a creative solution. They launched an unofficial Father’s Day celebration in 1949 and encouraged people to give Dad lighters for the occasion. Their idea was successful, and France officially acknowledged Fête des Pères as a holiday in 1952.

Father’s Day celebrations in France are much like in the U.S. The French usually present gifts to their fathers with clothing and accessories, albums, movies, DIY products, and hygiene products, among the most popular options.

Australia – Father’s Day

Australians celebrate Father’s Day on the first Sunday in September, which will be September 1, 2024. Some people believe the date was to allow for more space between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, while others think it was a way to boost retail sales during a less busy season. Whatever the reason, the holiday occurs on the first Sunday after the spring equinox.

The first Father’s Day celebrations in Australia took place in the 1930s, but the holiday became officially recognized and popular in the 1960s. Most Australians celebrate it today, though businesses don’t close for the holiday.

One unique Father’s Day tradition in Australia is the gift stall. During the days leading up to the holiday, schools often set up stalls selling inexpensive items like mugs, handkerchiefs, and socks. The pop-up shops make it possible for children to buy their own gifts, which is especially nice for the single dad who doesn’t have a partner to help his children shop for the holiday.

Fiji – Father’s Day

Like Australia, Fiji observes Father’s Day on the first Sunday in September. Many people already have Sundays off in the country, but businesses usually don’t close, especially for the occasion.

Fijians celebrate Father’s Day similarly to other countries. It’s customary to give Dad small Father’s Day gifts or a Father’s Day card and for families to spend the day together. One big difference is that families in Fiji often opt for outdoor activities like hiking or fishing.

Italy – Festa del Papà

In Italy, Father’s Day or Festa del Papà coincides with St. Joseph’s Day, March 19th. Until 1977, the holiday was a civil holiday, with most businesses closing. That year, economic hardships necessitated that the Italian government reduce the number of public holidays.

Although schools and businesses now remain open on Father’s Day, Italian families still honor fathers by giving gifts.

Many fathers look forward to receiving tasty sweets, and the traditional treats served to Dad vary from region to region. Tuscany often serves rice fritters, while people in Naples may savor doughnuts called zeppole. Custard-filled fried dough called bignè di San Giuseppe is another popular pastry enjoyed in many parts of the country.

Celebrating Father’s Day 2024 from abroad

No matter when your country holds its unofficial or official equivalent of Father’s Day, the holiday is a time to say thanks to all the fathers in your life.

If you’re currently living abroad, shipping the perfect present to Dad may seem daunting. Sending money internationally can be a simple yet meaningful way to honor him this year, and Remitly can help. Download the app to get started.

Learn more