Why Australia Celebrates Father’s Day Much Later Than the Rest of the World

Why Australia Celebrates Father’s Day Much Later Than the Rest of the World

Australians celebrate Father’s Day in September but if you look to the rest of the world, you’ll find we’re the strange ones — well us, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

For anyone following international personalities on social media, you might have gotten confused over the weekend. The platforms were filled with tributes to fathers around the world as the United States and about 90 other countries held Father’s Day celebrations on 21 June.

Originally, the concept of Father’s Day was tied to Catholic traditions in Europe, which wanted to pay homage to paternal bonds. They chose 19 March to commemorate the occasion along with Saint Joseph’s Day.

However, what we have come to know as Father’s Day can be linked back to the United States. In 1908, a woman in the the US campaigned to dedicate a day to making mother’s lives easier. As a result Mother’s Day was born and two years later, a Father’s Day was proposed too for the third Sunday of June. It took a little longer to kick off but by 1972, President Nixon made it a national holiday by law.

But down under, we like to do things differently. Instead of following the pack, we’ve instead dedicated the first Sunday of September to our dads.

There’s no clear cut answer really but a clue found in a 1936 Australian newspaper might explain why. It’s suspected to be the first time the concept of ‘Father’s Day’ was really published in Australia —  which lists it as a ‘new’ day — and it involved fathers bringing their sons to a church in regional New South Wales.

There were earlier mentions in the decades before but it seems by the 1940s, it became an established day. Still, it doesn’t really suggest why we’ve not stuck with June like most of the world.

Taking a stab in the dark, it’s possible September was chosen as it’s nicely spaced between Mother’s Day and Christmas — four months either way giving us plenty of time to save up. There’s really no concrete answer with archived newspapers only giving pockets of information.

Either way, a lot has changed about the concept in the 90 or so years it’s been celebrated in the country. Instead of bringing a son to church or calling a father the ‘head of the house’, dads are showered in gifts and appreciation from both family and friends.

At least you have time to save up until September rolls around. In fact, you could just as well take advantage of the end of financial year sale that’s happening right now or Prime Day in July to keep a gift ready for your dad well in advance.

If you have your own theories on the topic, give us a shout in the comments.


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