Father's Day in the UK
With Father’s Day cards and gifts hitting the shelves as early as April and talk of what to do for Father’s Day and the best gift ideas for dads in magazine and on social media weeks ahead of the event in June, Father’s Day certainly feels like a British institution but in reality, it has not been celebrated in Britain for all that long. In fact, it’s very likely that your own dad did not buy cards and presents for his father in the way that we do now, just one generation ago. Father’s Day did not become official in the UK until the 1970s and unlike Mother’s Day, its history does not travel back all that far.
So, why do we celebrate Father’s Day in Britain and when was Father’s Day created in the UK? In this blog post we will be diving into the background of Father’s Day in the UK and how it became to be the occasion we know today. We’ll also explain its links to American history and why Mother’s Day in the UK has a different date to the USA, but Father’s Day does not.
Read on for all you need to know about Father’s Day in the UK.
|Is there Father’s Day in the UK?|
|When did Father’s Day become popular in the UK?|
|Is Father’s Day the same in the US and UK?|
|Why is Mother’s Day different in the UK but not Father’s Day?|
Is there Father’s Day in the UK?
First things first, as you’re probably aware, there is a Father’s Day in the UK. Father’s Day is celebrated all over the UK every year on the third Sunday in June. It is a very popular celebration in the national calendar with families across Great Britain using the event to honour fathers and father figures with gifts, cards and family activities. Unlike Mother’s Day which has a long religious history in the UK, Father’s Day is a relatively recent invention, gaining popularity in the UK in the late 20th century.
When did Father’s Day become popular in the UK?
Most of the creation and modern history of Father’s Day took place in the USA, where it was first celebrated in 1908 and eventually became officially acknowledged in 1972. It’s thought that Father’s Day entered British popular culture some time after the Second World War and there are two main reasons for this. Firstly, it was during the wartime period that Father’s Day became increasingly popular in the USA, as it became a sign of patriotism, with Father’s Day celebrations being used as a way to send support to fathers in the troops. Secondly, post-war British culture became much more Americanised on the whole, with American fashions, music and other forms of pop culture becoming popular in the UK. As a result, American holidays such as Halloween and Father’s Day began to be celebrated in Britain.
Although Father’s Day was becoming more popular in the UK throughout the 20th century it did not become official until 1972, the same year that US President Nixon declared it an official holiday in the USA.
Is Father’s Day the same in the US and UK?
With most of its roots being in the USA, it’s not surprising that Father’s Day in the UK is celebrated on the same day as its founding country. In both the UK and the USA Father’s Day is held on the third Sunday in June.
However, this has not always been the case. Until it became official in 1972 there was some variation in the date of Father’s Day in the UK. Some families followed suit with the USA and held their Father’s Day celebrations in June, while others followed countries like Australia and New Zealand, who pay homage to their fathers in September, or most Scandinavian who celebrate Father’s Day on the second Sunday in November. In fact, there are several different dates where Father’s Day is celebrated around the world.
Although Father’s Day in the UK is not a national holiday as such it does now hold an official date in the UK calendar and is celebrated in June on the same day as the US. Mother’s Day, however, has a somewhat different story.
Why is Mother’s Day different in the UK but not Father’s Day?
Unlike Father’s Day, which is held on the same day in the UK and USA, UK Mother’s Day does not share a date with the US. This is because in the UK Mother’s Day – or “Mothering Sunday” as it was originally known – has its roots in Christianity which far pre-date the US invention of Mother’s Day in the early 1900s.
Mothering Sunday in the UK can be traced back to the 16th century when Christians would return to their home parish on the fourth Sunday of Lent to visit their “Mother Church” and also spend time with their own mothers. In later years Mothering Sunday was a day when servants would be given paid leave to return home and visit their mothers, traditionally gathering wild flowers on the journey home to give to their mothers and present in the church.
By the 20th century Mothering Sunday in the UK had become more secular and commercial, similar to the newly instated US Mother’s Day (held annually in May). However, in keeping with its religious origins, UK Mother’s Day continued to be held on the fourth Sunday of Lent. As Lent is part of the Christian festival of Easter which changes in date each year, UK Mother’s Day does not have a fixed date however it is traditionally celebrated in March.
So, the main reason that Mother’s Day is different in the UK but Father’s Day is not is due to their relative histories. Mother’s Day can be traced back hundreds of years, and already held its own date in the calendar before it was popularised in America, whereas Father’s Day has always been more tied to US traditions.