Caritas Athens

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Father’s Day honors fatherhood and more broadly fathers’ contribution to family and the society in general, to emphasize their role’s value and equal importance for raising children.

Inspired by the respective day for Mothers at the beginning of the 20th century, the first historically known organized celebration took place in the United States in West Virginia’s Fairmont, on July 5th, 1908. Grace Golden Clayton organized the event to honor the memory of 250 dead fathers (among 361 victims in total) who had lost their lives in a mine at the so-called Monongah Mining disaster a few months earlier on December 1907.

Yet, the event did not attain public recognition and for several years remained at the fringe of society, until 1966 when the then-US President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation officially honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed it into law as a permanent national holiday.

Nevertheless, in many European Catholic countries, it was celebrated as early as the Middle Ages (late 14th – early 15th century) on March 19th (Saint Joseph’s day), a date still observed in several countries, while the Spanish and the Portuguese later introduced it in Latin America, as well.

Finally, at a global level, countries in their vast majority adopted the US celebration, though certain among them in the southern hemisphere, such as Australia, hold their celebration on the first Sunday in September.

In Greece, the celebration was introduced rather recently by the Association for Paternal Dignity (ΣΥ.Γ.Α.Π.Α.) and its founder Dr. Nikos Spitalas, created to tackle parental inequality that fathers experience by the judicial system in divorce cases for their children’s custody.