Father’s Day is a special day to recognise and celebrate the role fathers play in our life. Whether it is your Dad, step-dad, foster dad or just a special father figure who has helped you along the way, Father’s Day is your chance to say ‘Thank You’.

How did Father’s Day start?

The history of Father’s Day dates back to the early 1900s, and was partly inspired by the unofficial Mother’s Day services which began in 1908. These Mother’s Day services prompted many people to arrange similar services to recognise fathers.

While many services were arranged in the next couple of years, the most widely noted was organised in Washington, by Mrs Sonora Dodd. Mrs Dodd wanted to pay tribute to her late father, William Smart, who became a single parent when her mother died in childbirth. William Smart raised 6 children on his own, which was an unusual feat at that time.

Originally Mrs Dodd wanted to hold the memorial service on the anniversary of her father’s death, June 5th 1910, however this did not leave organisers enough time to prepare a service. Instead the service was arranged to be held on the June 19th, and this has became known as the first Fathers Day.

While services continued every year, it was not until 1924 that President Coolidge recommended Father’s Day as a national holiday. It took 48 years from that recommendation, before Father’s Day was officially recognised by President Nixon in 1972.

When is Father’s Day celebrated?

Most countries follow the United States tradition and celebrate Father’s Day on the 3rd Sunday in June, however New Zealand and Australia celebrate on the 1st Sunday in September. There is no clear data as to why we celebrate on this date, so if you know of any New Zealand Father’s Day history, please let us know.

Other cultures around the world coincide Father’s Day with other celebrations in their community. In Germany it is celebrated on Ascension Day (40 days after Easter), in the Roman Catholic tradition it is St Josephs Day (March 19), and in Thailand it is the king’s birthday (December 5).

How is Father’s Day celebrated?

Father’s Day around the world is a chance for sons and daughters to pay tribute to their Dads. While for most countries there are no set traditions, it often involves a nice meal, presents, and a chance for Dad to put their feet up.

In Germany, Dads take part in a Father’s Day hike. Groups of men hike into the forest dragging a wagon full of wine or beer, and local foods. On reaching their destination they have a Father’s Day feast. Perhaps we should keep this tradition a secret from kiwi Dads?

Ideas for Celebrating Fathers Day

Father’s Day is all about making Dad feel special, and letting him know how much you appreciate the role he plays in your life. Think of Dad’s favourite things, and organise a special gift or outing surrounding that theme. Here are some art and craft ideas to get you started.

Sweet Tooth Dad

Make a special sweet tooth basket for Dad with some of his favourite treats. Why not cook up some fudge, bake a cake, or roast some nuts with maple syrup. The Edmond’s cookbook has some great easy-to-make sweet recipes, or check out our Quick and Easy Sweet Treats article.

Handy Man Dad

Take a plain photo frame and decorate it with nuts, bolts, nails, latches and odds and sods from Dad’s workshop. Use a hot glue gun to secure on all your bits and pieces, and then coat it in a clear varnish to finish off. Put a photo of yourself on the inside, and you’ll have Dad’s two favourite things in one place.

At the Office Dad

Take a clean tin can and make a great pen caddy for Dad’s office by covering it with photos of you.

Start by colour copying your favourite photographs, and then cut them into shapes so only the best bits of the photo are used. Paste the photographs on to the tin can using PVA glue, making sure that each photo overlaps the next one a little bit. Finish by painting a thin layer of PVA right over the top, to hold the photos in place and provide a protective finish.

Sports Nut Dad

Make Dad a sports log book so he can keep track of his favourite teams. Make headings on each page for the date, opposition, venue, weather conditions and score. Depending on the sport, you can add headings for things like penalties, fouls, tries, goals or rebounds for each of his favourite players.

Put all the pages into a ring binder, or take them to a copy centre to get them book bound (it should only cost you $4-$6). Decorate the front cover by cutting out pictures of his favourite sport, team or players.

Music Lover Dad

Download all of Dad’s favourite songs onto CD, and create a great album cover telling him he’s the best Dad in the world. Every time he listens to the CD, he’ll think of you.

For more great ideas for celebrating Father’s Day, check out our Mother’s Day article. Many of the gift ideas there, are just as good for Dads as they are for Mums.

Above all else, remember to tell Dad how much you love him, and how much you appreciate the things he does for you. Make him a cup of tea, and let him watch the news in peace. He really will appreciate it.

The Kiwi Families Team

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

  • BG Smith

    Kia ora All – please come to our Fathers Day Jamboree – at Onehunga Community Centre…

    Bring your family and join in the fun. Bouncy castle and face painting for free, healthy kai and fun games with prizes, local musicians will help play your favourite dad songs.

    Father and Child Trust are a registered charity who provide information and support for all fathers. See also fathers Mauri Ora circle support group, Wednesday nights.

    call 525 1690 for details or email

  • Joanne Wiklund

    This is good stuff. Good on you – I wish I’d looked at it earlier. Evenso, I’ll put it in a newsletter.

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