jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG Sunday 20th June 2021


When did Father’s Day start in the UK?

The date of Father’s Day changes every year because it is always held on the third Sunday of June.

Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is an annual tradition here in the UK and in many other countries around the world, but when did the celebratory day first start?

Father’s Day has been celebrated among European Catholics since the middle ages when it was originally marked on Saint Joseph’s Day (19 March) with a feast.

An annual day set aside for the celebration of fatherhood in Catholic Europe can be traced back as far as 1508 – although it is possible that a day honouring fatherhood specifically could have begun even earlier than that.

America was one of the first nations to make Father’s Day an official holiday.

The First Father’s Day

On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church hosted the nation’s first event explicitly in honour of fathers. During a Sunday sermon, 362 men who had died in explosions in December at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah were honoured in a one-time commemoration.

The Campaign for an Official Holiday

One year later, Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to create a “Mother’s Day” for fathers. She had success when Washington state held the first statewide Father’s Day on July 19, 1910.

After a campaign that was started by Sonora in 1910 and saw millions of Americans begin to celebrate Father’s Day every June, President Lyndon Johnson eventually signed a presidential proclamation officially declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day over 50 years later in 1966.

The day then became a permanent national celebration in 1972 thanks to President Richard Nixon.

Like other American celebrations such as Halloween, the UK had followed suit by then in celebrating Father’s Day, introducing an official day on the third Sunday of June too, in order to celebrate father figures and say thank you to the important dads in our lives.

50 Father’s Day Facts

  1. Father’s Day was invented by American Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd whose father had, as a single parent raised his six children. The first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910.


  1. In spite of the impression you might get from the media, according to the Office of National Statistics, four fifths of children in the UK have a Dad at home – eighty per cent of dependent children live with their father.


  1. Furthermore according to the ONS, three per cent of fathers living with dependent children are lone fathers.


  1. According to greetings card makers Hallmark, Father’s Day is the fourth-largest card-sending holiday of the year. After Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.


  1. The film Fathers’ Day starred Robin Williams and Billy Crystal as two middle aged men who are tricked into finding an ex-girlfriends runaway son when she tells them they are both the father. They have to team up to find the boy and discover who the real father is. The film was a hit due to the big-name cast but was not a critical success.


  1. Marilyn Monroe famously sung Cole Porter’s ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’. She is reputed to have not known who her real father was.


  1. One of the best-know quotes about fathers was from Mark Twain. He said of his Father ‘When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.’


  1. The episode of Dr. Who (played by Christopher Eccleston) entitled Father’s Day involved Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) travelling back in time to the day that her father was killed. She steps in to prevent his death causing the inevitable rent in the space/time continuum.


  1. More from the Office of National Statistics; in 1971 the average age of a father where the birth occurred inside a married relationship in England and Wales was 27; by 1999 this had increased to 31.


  1. These days, fathers are generally three years younger where births occur outside marriage. The average age of the father where the birth occurred outside marriage decreased from 28 to 26 between 1971 and 1991 but had since increased to almost 28 again in 1999.


  1. In China, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June now, but it used to be celebrated on 8th August. The reason is a linguistic one; the Chinese for eight is “ba”, while a colloquial word for father is “ba-ba” – therefore the eighth day of the eighth month sounds similar to “papa”.


  1. Father’s Day vs. Fathers’ Day. Any grammar geek could find the quandary in this holiday title. Isn’t the day set aside to celebrate all fathers, plural, rather than just an individual? Though Dodd petitioned for the holiday to be written as “Fathers’ Day,” the U.S. Congress used the term “Father’s Day” when they established the day as an official holiday.


  1. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons

Finally, it was President Nixon who officially declared it a holiday in 1972. Father’s Day is much newer than Mother’s Day, which has been celebrated since the 1860s and was made official in 1914.


  1. The First Father’s Day Card. Father’s Day cards go farther back than Hallmark. One of the earliest dates back roughly 4,000 years. Elmesu, a Babylonian youngster, carved a card out of clay to “wish his father good health and long life.”


  1. Father’s Day is the fourth most popular card-sending holiday in the U.S. behind Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day. Over 72 million cards are sent out on this special holiday to say “I love you, Dad!”


  1. Celebrating dads on the third Sunday in June may have originated in the United States, but Father’s Day is far from an American-exclusive holiday. Over 40 countries around the world have a special day to honour dads.


  1. Husbands or Dads? Should wives celebrate their husbands on Father’s Day the same way husbands honour wives on Mother’s Day? It seems so! Twenty percent of Father’s Day cards are sent from moms to their husbands.


  1. Roses for Dad. And you thought only Mum deserved flowers on her special day! Father’s Day’s official flower is the rose. A red rose is worn in your lapel on Father’s Day if your father is living, and a white rose is worn if he has passed away.


  1. The Origin of ‘Dad’. While the exact date that the word “dad” came into use is unknown, it is estimated that it began around the late fifteenth century. It is believed that it was simply derived from baby talk, as in many languages “dada” or “tata” refers to a baby’s acknowledgement of father.


  1. Father’s Day holds a special place in the heart for single dads, a demographic that is on the rise. In 2017, there were 2 million households led by a single father, a 900 percent increase from the 1960s.


  1. Necktie. A necktie is one of the ultimate gifts for Father’s Day. But did you know that neckties could date as far back as 221 B.C.? When Chin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor, and his “terracotta army” were discovered, each replica was wearing a necktie.


  1. The world record for having the most number of children officially recorded is 69 by the first wife of Feodor Vassilyev (1707-1782), a peasant from Moscow. His first wife gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets. Dinnertimes must have been hectic!


  1. Father’s Day cards grew in popularity following the post-war increase in greeting card sending in the UK. Cards increasingly became the chosen way to mark special occasions, express sympathy and just say Thinking of You.


  1. In 2019 we sent our Dad’s 26.9 million greeting cards of all types in the UK. 7 million Father’s Day cards are sent each year, compared to 13 million Mother’s Day cards.


  1. Average price per card of £1.71.


  1. The value of the UK Father’s Day card market is £46 million, an increase of 7.4% on 2018.


  1. Greeting cards are a world-leading British Creative industry; we send more cards per capita than any other nation, and lead the world in innovative and design, exporting our cards all over the world. Cards are a good tangible way of keeping in touch, and mean more than a social media message which are sent all the time.


  1. 18-34 year olds sending more cards than a generation ago. People are on social media all the time, this is being seen in US too – 44m more cards between 2017 and 2018, according to the US Postal Service, and this is due to Millennial’s’.


  1. Over 90% of greeting cards are bought in a bricks and mortar store.


  1. There are 1.5 billion fathers worldwide.


  1. In Germany, the men spend the Father’s Day drinking beer all the day at beer gardens.


  1. Last year and this year are an exceptional years since the pandemic changed the way we celebrate Father’s Day and spend our money.


In 2020 in the UK:      38% of people spent Father’s Day on a Zoom call or on Facetime with their fathers or stepfathers, according to Money’s report.


  1. 26% of Fathers were wished a good Father’s Day from afar, according to the same study.


  1. 19% took advantage of outdoor spaces enjoying a meal or a BBQ in the garden, according to the same study.


  1. 45% of consumers who bought gifts for 2020 Father’s Day, chose to do so online, according to Market Research’s Retail Occassion Series report.


  1. Spending trends changed as well. Spending on a gift for Father’s Day dropped by a third compared to 2019, down from £31 to £20, according to Money’s report.


  1. There was an increased spend on food and drinks and people avoided shopping centres, retail parks and department stores, according to Market Research’s Retail Occasion.


  1. Here’s how people spent Father’s Day in the UK in 2020.


32% of them attended/watched sport (either on TV or live).

24% of them watched TV

20% did some gardening or DIY projects

10% cooked with their fathers or stepfathers

9% did some shopping

9% did some sort of fitness activity together, according to Money’s report.


  1. In the United States, 72 million Father’s Day cards are exchanged annually, according to Hallmark.


  1. Female shoppers will spend 50% more on gifts for their dad than their male counterparts, according to ContactPigeon.


  1. With more and more emphasis on the sacrifice fathers make to support their families and a change in the family dynamic with more fathers becoming caregivers in the home either as stay-at-home dads, single fathers, or partners in a two-working-parent family, Father’s Day is becoming more on the level as the Mother’s Day holiday has become.


As the family structure begins to change and a father’s role in the family becomes more appreciated the holiday could soon see its place alongside Mother’s Day as one of the most popular celebratory and gift-giving days in the world.


  1. The only father-daughter collaboration to hit the top spot on the Billboard pop music chart was the 1967 hit single “Something Stupid” by Frank & Nancy Sinatra.


  1. The Stevie Wonder song “Isn’t She Lovely” is about his newborn daughter, Aisha. If you listen closely, you can hear Aisha crying during the song.


  1. The voice of Papa Smurf, Don Messick, also provided the voice of Scooby-Doo, Ranger Smith on Yogi Bear, and Astro and RUDI on The Jetsons.


  1. Only one father / son combination has ever topped the charts each in their own right. Julio Iglesias topped the chart with “Begin The Beguine” in Nov 1981. More than twenty years later in February 2002, his son, Enrique hit number 1 with “Hero”.


  1. There was a close call in 1991 when Chesney Hawkes made number one with “The One And Only.” His dad, Len ‘Chip’ Hawkes has previously occupied the top spot with “Silence Is Golden” (1967) but this was as part of a group; The Tremeloes. Similarly, both Ringo Starr (real name Richard Starkey) and his son, Zak Starkey, have topped the chart as drummers in different groups; Ringo with The Beatles and Zak with The Crowd (“You’ll Never Walk Alone”), Baddiel & Skinner and The Lightning Seeds (“3 Lions ’98”).


  1. Being a father has been, without a doubt, my greatest source of achievement, pride and inspiration. Fatherhood has taught me about unconditional love, reinforced the importance of giving back and taught me how to be a better person. – Naveen Jain


  1. “She did not stand alone, but what stood behind her, the most potent moral force in her life, was the love of her father.” – Harper Lee.


  1. “I’ve said it before, but it’s absolutely true: My mother gave me my drive, but my father gave me my dreams. Thanks to him, I could see a future.” – Liza Minnelli.


  1. “A father carries pictures where his money used to be.” – Steve Martin.



There are 10 top brands that get the Dad Seal of Approval:

  1. Apple
  2. UnderArmour
  3. Nike
  4. Netflix
  5. iPad
  6. Lexus
  7. Lego
  8. Levi’s
  9. Kobalt
  10. Harley-Davidson



  1. Clothing – 46% planning to buy.
  2. Gift cards – 44% planning to buy.
  3. Special outings (such as dinner) – 41% planning to buy.
  4. Personal care items – 25% planning to buy.
  5. Books/CDs – 24% planning to buy.
  6. Electronics – 23% planning to buy.
  7. Home improvement/gardening tools – 21% planning to buy.
  8. Tools or appliances – 21% planning to buy.
  9. Sporting goods – 20% planning to buy.
  10. Automotive Accessories – 19% planning to buy.
  11. Other – 19% planning to buy something else.


When asked what the most important thing is when picking out a Father’s Day gift, 41% of people said they wanted to get something that was unique or different (National Retail Federation).

While 36% wanted to find a gift that would create a special memory, which is maybe why special outings are such a popular gift choice.

Then there were the 26% of people that wanted to find a gift that was convenient for them and the 18% who wanted to keep the costs low, while 11% stated a different reason.

Girls really love their Daddies and it was more important for women to get their Dad’s something memorable than it was for men (40% compared to 32%) (National Retail Federaton).

While men had a bigger preference for their own convenience when buying a Father’s Day gift (31% compared to only 21% of women).

And these convenience shoppers would have contributed to the large number of online shoppers on Father’s Day 2020, with 37% of people planning to buy their Father’s Day gifts online (Fortune).

What Do Dads Really Want For Father’s Day?

Let’s take a look at what the Dads are saying.

According to the Father’s Day survey from RetailMeNot, the most wanted gift among Dads were :

  1. Gift cards, with 40% hoping for one for Father’s Day 2020.
  2. This was followed by being treated to a meal, either by being taken out to a restaurant (32%) or with nice food to eat at home (27%).
  3. Clothes were the next choice, with 27% of Dads wanting a clothing gift (although I’m sure most of them have had enough of new ties for Father’s Day!).
  4. While 18% said they’d be happy to receive alcohol, so a nice bottle of wine, whiskey, or some beers is a decent option.
  5. 17% of Dads were after an electronical gadget, and the same number said they wanted some chocolate.
  6. And finally, 13% said they’d prefer an experience gift rather than a physical gift for Father’s Day.



  1. “The quality of a father can be seen in the goals, dreams, and aspirations he sets not only for himself but for his family.” – Reed Markham
  2. “It is much easier to become a father than to be one.” – Kent Nerburn.


  1. “It is a wise father that knows his own child.” – William Shakespeare.


Happiness is…being a father.


Fathers Day is just like Mothers Day, only you don’t spend as much.


Love is…remembering Father’s Day.


A time to be a father…a time to be a grandfather.


20th June

1837 Queen Victoria at 18 ascends British throne following death of uncle King William IV. She rules for 63 years till 1901.

1960 “The Huckleberry Hound Show” by Hanna-Barbera becomes the first animated programme to win an Emmy.

1975 “Jaws”, based on the book by Peter Benchley, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Roy Scheider is released.

 1984: O-Levels to be replaced by GCSEs.

The biggest exam shake-up for over 10 years is announced with O-Level and CSE exams to be replaced by a new exam.


Click the pictures to read more.

The 30 most memorable literary fathers – good & bad


Top 20 dads in picture books


Reflections of a Top Hit Record

Click the picture to read more.


©2021 Phil M Robinson