Fun Father's Day facts for kids - plus when is Father's Day 2024 and why do we celebrate it?

Kids will love these fun facts... but when *is* Father's Day this year?

Grandfather ,father and son working at workshop screwing a screw
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When is Father's Day this year and why does the date change every year?

Don't panic, it's not this weekend! This year, Father's Day falls on Sunday 16 June. In the UK, Father's Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June, so there's still plenty of time to track down the best Father's Day gift ideas and think about the best Father's Day quotes and messages to write in any Father's Day cards you plan to send.

Father's Day is a much more modern celebration than the origins of Mother's Day - which stemmed from a Christian tradition - and has only been widely celebrated for about 100 years,

What is the origin of Father's Day?

Father's Day campaigns began in the early 1900s, with people wishing for a day to celebrate fathers in the same way that Mother's Day honours mums. It took a while for the idea to take off however, and while the first official Father's Day was celebrated in 1910, it wasn't declared a national holiday in the US until 1972.

In 1908, a church in West Virginia held a commemorative service celebrating fathers, and a year later a Washington woman called Sonora Smart Dodd made it her mission to set up a national Father’s Day. She and her five siblings were raised solely by her father after her mother died in childbirth, and she was upset by the fact that there was a Mother’s Day, but no corresponding day for fathers.

A father with his son on his shoulders holding a toy airplane

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dodd petitioned her local community and government to change this, originally proposing for Father’s Day to be on 5 June - which was her own father's birthday - as a way of honouring him.

Thanks to Dodd, Washington celebrated its first Father's Day in 1910, and the celebration then slowly spread to other states and, eventually, across the pond and to the UK. However, Father's Day wasn't widely celebrated until World War II, when advertisers seized the opportunity to use it as a way to promote the troops.

In the US, President Nixon finally declared Father’s Day a national holiday in 1972 when he signed it into law in the middle of his re-election campaign.

Despite the holiday's current popularity, it wasn't without controversy in its early days. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson confirmed that he was working to make the holiday recognised at a national level after he attended Father's Day celebrations in Washington. However, Congress was reluctant to agree due to fears of commercialisation.

Then, during the 1930s, a movement emerged to scrap both Father's Day and Mother's Day in favour of a joint Parent's Day. This was unsuccessful - partly because the local economy got a boost from people buying gifts and cards for two separate events.

9 fun Father's Day facts for kids

  • Father's Day was started in 1920 by a young girl named Sonora Smart Dodd as a way of celebrating her dad.
  • Lots of countries in the world celebrate Father's Day - but on different dates. 
  • The oldest dad in history was 96 years old when his child was born.
  • Father's Day is one of the busiest days of the year for phone calls, with people keen to wish their dads a happy Father's Day.
  • Father's Day is also a day to celebrate grandfathers, stepdads and anyone who is an important father figure in your life,
  • A tie is the most commonly purchased item of clothing for a Father’s Day gift.
  • Roses are the official flower of Father's Day.
  • A tie is the most commonly purchased item of clothing for a Father’s Day gift.
  • Did you know that male seahorses carry and give birth to baby seahorses?

When did Fathers Day begin?

The first Father’s Day happened in 1908. A church in West Virginia held a special sermon in honour of fathers after 362 men were killed in explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah. 

Parishioners gave out red and white roses to honour fathers both living and dead, in commemoration of all that fathers do for their families.

However, the celebration was a one-time commemoration and not an attempt at a national holiday, and the church community didn’t celebrate it again.

Two years later, Washington state celebrated its first Father’s Day in June 1910, thanks to Sonora Smart Dodd. The event was delayed until 16 June, rather than taking place on the date of 5 June, which Dodd had campaigned for.

How do we celebrate Father's Day?

Father's Day is celebrated by purchasing Father's Day gifts and cards. Popular Father's Day gifts include socks, ties, wallets and alcoholic beverages, as well as electronic gadgets. DIY accessories and days out. 

While both the US and the UK celebrate Father's Day on the third Sunday of June, other countries celebrate the event on different dates. Many countries, including Spain, Italy and Croatia, celebrate Father’s Day on 19 March, due to it corresponding to the traditional Catholic holiday that recognises the legal father of Jesus Christ, St. Joseph's Day.

In Russia, Father's Day is celebrated on February 23rd and is known as 'Defender of the Fatherland Day'. Created to support the people in the armed services, it was made a state holiday in 2002.

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Heidi Scrimgeour
Deputy Editor

Heidi is a seasoned parenting journalist with over 15 years of experience. She has contributed to numerous UK national newspapers, including The Guardian, The Times, and The Telegraph. Her work has also appeared in a variety of print and digital magazines, such as Psychologies and Mother & Baby, where she was Shopping Editor for six years. In this role, she specialised in consumer features, including buying guides and baby gear reviews. Heidi is also mum to two teenage sons and a ten-year-old daughter.