Father's Day - A Little History & Some Famous Dads

Father’s Day

On the third Sunday in June, this year June 20th, we celebrate Father’s Day. Not only do we celebrate our own dads, but we can also celebrate the role of fathers in general.

The Beginning of Father’s Day

Not many of us think about the origins of Father’s Day. However, it's a lovely story of a daughter’s love and appreciation for her father. The daughter in question is Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, who lost her mother at the age of 16. This meant that she, along with her 5 younger brothers, had to be raised by their father. Seeing everything her dad did for his children, she felt that her father and other fathers should be celebrated. 

Sonora Louise Smart Dodd

In 1909, she made a petition to have the first Father’s Day recognized and celebrated. She chose the date in June as it was her father’s birthday. While she only received two signatures, she was successful in having church communities participate.

The inaugural Father’s Day was celebrated in Spokane, Washington and heralded the beginning of Dodd’s life-long mission to promote Father’s Day and have it recognized as a national holiday. This journey took her over 25 years of campaigning throughout the United States.

It was only in 1972 that Father’s Day was finally declared a national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed the resolution into law. Despite previous presidents, including Lydon B. Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, and Calving Coolidge writing in favour of Father’s Day.

“In the homes of our Nation, we look to the fathers to provide the strength and stability which characterize the successful family. If the father’s responsibilities are many, his rewards are also great - the love, appreciation, and respect of children and spouse.” President Lydon B Johnson

How Was the First Father’s Day Celebrated?

 vintage father's day

During the first Father’s Day, in Spokane, Washington, Fathers were honoured by their families by wearing roses. Red roses were worn to honour fathers who were still alive and white roses for fathers who had passed away. As was traditionally done on Mother’s Day, churches gave sermons focusing on Father’s Day. The mayor of Spokane and the governor of Washington both issued Father’s Day proclamations. As typically the sole breadwinners of families at this time, Father’s were honoured for this role, unlike today where their role has evolved to include a more active participation in family life.

Father’s Day Today

Today, Father’s Day is celebrated worldwide. Depending on the country, it is celebrated at different times of the year. For example, in Australia and New Zealand, it’s celebrated on the first Sunday in September. In Thailand, it’s celebrated in December to coincide with the birthday of the country’s king .

No matter where fathers are in te world, Father’s Day is a day when a special effort is made to recognize the dads in our lives. Everything from a card to gifts, and spending time together is a great way to honour our dads.

Sometimes celebrating dad goes beyond the family. For example, in South Africa, it is seen as such an important day that social and cultural societies host Father’s Day celebrations as their way of emphasizing the important role of a father in nurturing their child in order to create a better community.

But Should All Fathers Be Celebrated?

Looking back through history, there are some really great fathers. However, there are also examples of fathers who are terrible role models. For a little fun and thanks to History.com let’s look at a few of them. 

Peter The (Not So) Great

Peter the Great

Russia’s ruler from 1682-to 1725, Peter had 14 children with two wives. Not only did many die young, Peter wasn’t a model father. He was responsible for planning the execution of his first-born. Alexei, accused of conspiracy go kill his father. Before his execution could be carried out, Alexei died of wounds received while being tortured.

Ivan the (Definitely) Terrible

Ivan the Terrible

Another Russian ruler, this time in power from 1533 to 1584, was the father to nine children. Known for his abusive ways, Ivan caused his pregnant daughter-in-law to lose her unborn child. When his son (also names Ivan) complained, his father struck him with a scepter. Showing some remorse, Ivan stayed at his son’s bedside until he passed away a few days later.

Herod the (Questionably) Great


As the king of Judea, Herod was known to be an ambitious and cruel ruler. He was not only a bad husband but wasn’t a nurturing father. He was responsible for killing three of his own sons.

Not to End on a Bad Note…

The point of this blog is to have some fun, entertain and this week, celebrate dads. So we won’t end with a list of all the bad fathers in history. Here is a look at some of the better dads.

 best dad




Emperor of the Romans in the late eighth and early ninth centuries, Charlemagne had 20 children - with several wives and concubines. He insisted they all receive a proper education whether they were girls or boys. Unlike Peter the Great, when Charlemagne discovered his son Pepin had conspired to kill Charlemagne, instead of killing him, he had him sent to a monastery.

Mark Twain

 Mark Twain

An apparently dedicated and doting father, Mark Twain was particularly close to his oldest, Susy. She shared his love of writing and he based characters in his novels on her. When Susy died of meningitis as a young woman, Mark Twain fell into a deep depression.



Talk about a dedicated father, Cicero adored his daughter Tullia and was heartbroken when she passed away after childbirth. He took a long time to overcome his grief at her death and divorced his second wife when he decided she hadn’t been what he deemed as sufficiently sad at her passing.

Charles Darwin


Scientist and the father of modern evolutionary science, also had 10 children. Unlike most dads during the time, Charles Darwin played a key role in raising his children at a time when fathers were the breadwinners, not participants in the education of their own children.

Today’s Dads

todays dads

The stories of most of our fathers today are hopefully far less tragic than the majority of historical figures noted above. Whether your dad is a cool dad or your father a great role modelwe wish you all a happy father’s day no matter how or with whom you celebrate.