Almost everywhere in the world, father’s day falls on the second Sunday of June. Except in the Belgian city of Antwerp and some historically Catholic countries like Spain or Portugal. There, they stick to 19 March. The reason for that difference is religious. 19 March is the name day of Saint Joseph, the father of Jesus, a rather respected figure in the Christian faith. For that same reason, kids buy a fathers’s day gift on his name day since 1479.
For the very first father’s day gift, and thus the history behind father’s day, we have to go back to 1909, shortly after the American Civil War. At that time, a certain Mrs Sonora Smart Dodd lived and she had such admiration for the heroic deeds her father – and by extension all fathers – had performed during the war, that she thought it was fitting to have a holiday in return. Especially considering the hard work the men of the house undertake to put bread on the table and wood in the fire.
Locally, her initiative caught on. In her hometown of Spokane, families celebrated the first official father’s day on 19 June 1910. Father Dodd’s birth date. So the first father’s day gift was actually a village celebration. If you want to be authentic, that’s the way to go. Around the 1960s, the tradition of giving a father’s day gift every second Sunday of June blew over to Europe, where most countries already had a different kind of father’s day. Some people stuck to that, others switched to the new date and more others felt that a second father’s day wouldn’t hurt anybody.