Father's Day in the USA

Father's Day in the USA is celebrated every year on the third Sunday in June and it is just as important as Mother's Day. We have put together all about the origins and traditions as well as some interesting facts about this US holiday for you.

Origin of Father's Day in the USA

The first reported event in honor of fathers in the USA was held on July 5, 1908, when a church in West Virginia held a special Sunday sermon in memory of 362 men. Those had died in a coal mine explosion a few months earlier, among them were many fathers. However, this particular Father's Day service was a one-time event that was not repeated in the years that followed.

Efforts by Sonora Dodd

A key figure in the establishment of today's Father's Day in the States was 27-year-old Sonora Dodd, whose father raised his six children on his own after her mother's death. Inspired by Anna Jarvis' efforts for Mother's Day in the USA, Dodd wanted to create an official equivalent for male parents in 1909, since she was very grateful to her father for his dedication.

She went to local churches, storekeepers and government officials to gain support for her idea and eventually succeeded. Washington State celebrated the country's first statewide Father's Day on June 19, 1910. Originally, Dodd suggested June 5 as date for the holiday, as it was the anniversary of her father's death. However, the time was presumably too short to organize the festivities in time.

Official Recognition by the Government

In 1916, US President Woodrow Wilson spoke at a Father's Day celebration in Spokane, Washington and wanted to make the holiday official. Congress resisted, however, fearing it would be just another commercialized holiday. So the movement grew slowly and only got more popular in 1924, when President Calvin Coolidge urged all US states to observe Father's Day.

However, it was not until 1972 that Father's Day was officially recognised as a permanent holiday by President Richard Nixon. Six years earlier, in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson had already declared the third Sunday in June as Father's Day.

Father's Day Traditions

Father's Day is not a federal holiday, but a relatively modern holiday to recognize the contribution of fathers or male caregivers to their kids and also to society. There are a variety of traditions that are common in different families. These range from a simple phone call or greeting card to typical masculine gifts such as sporting equipment, electronic items, outdoor cooking utensils or household tools. If you're looking for an inspiration, check out our ideas for USA Gifts!

In the days prior to Father's Day, many schools also help their children to prepare a self-made card or a small gift for their dads. Of course, fathers also love it when their children cook them a delicious breakfast on Father's Day. Since the weather is usually good at the end of June, a nice barbecue in the garden or other outdoor activities and sporting events are popular as well.

Interesting Father's Day Facts

  • Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington is credited with starting Father's Day in the USA after hearing a sermon on Mother's Day.
  • There are more than 70 million fathers in the United States.
  • Father's Day is the fourth-largest card-sending occasion with about 80 million cards given every year.
  • 50% of all Father's Day cards are purchased by sons and daughters. Nearly 20% of cards are bought by wives for their husbands.
  • The remaining cards are bought for grandfathers, sons, brothers, uncles and "someone special". The two top-selling categories of cards are "Dad From Daughter" and "Dad From Both".
  • Humorous cards account for about 25% of Father's day sales.


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