Father's Day is a holiday known around the world as a day to celebrate fathers and fatherhood while strengthening the bond between fathers and their family. Celebrated in nearly 50 countries globally, this holiday started with the Spanish and Portuguese and over the years it evolved and spread across the world until many more were celebrating together. The third Sunday of June hosts the beloved Father's Day holiday for the United States. This year, the celebration will be observed on the June 18.
Outside of the Catholic tradition, Father's Day wasn't officially celebrated in the U.S. until several failed attempts occurred to establish the holiday. Sonora Smart Dodd, daughter of war veteran and single father William Jackson Smart, is credited with establishing Father's Day in the U.S. after asking her pastor to create a holiday similar to Mother's Day which honored fathers. Originally planned for June 5, the first Father's Day celebration was designated to the third Sunday in June. The celebration was established in 1910 and briefly faded during the 1920s, but the holiday returned in the 1930s and continued to grow in popularity across the country. It was established as a permanent national holiday by Richard Nixon in 1972.
In Italy, Father's Day (Festa del Papà) is both similar and different to the Father's Day held in the U.S. Although many European and American countries have adopted the June date used in the U.S., Italy holds this celebration on a different day. The holiday is celebrated on Saint Joseph's Day, or Feast of Saint Joseph (Festa di San Giuseppe), which is observed on March 19. This day honors the husband of the Virgin Mary and father of Jesus Christ. This day was dedicated to St. Joseph as early as the 10th century and many customs and celebrations were established for this celebration over the years.
In Italian cities such as Sicily, thanks are given to St. Joseph to honor a legend about him. According to legend, peoples' prayers to the saint once brought rain during a severe drought so food and plants could grow, including the fava bean. Due to this, the fava bean is a part of an old tradition during Saint Joseph's Day, as it saved many from starvation.
Saint Joseph's day is celebrated with flowers, altars, celebrations, and wine around Italy. Although typically celebrated in Roman Catholic countries, Italian citizens of all religions and backgrounds also use this day to celebrate their own fathers. Traditional foods and large get-togethers are common celebrations on this day, and while it is a day to celebrate St. Joseph, it is also a day to celebrate one's own father with gifts and cards. The day has come to represent all fathers in Italy.
Although this holiday may not be a public holiday in many nations, fathers are still honored and valued across the world. A day to honor fathers seems essential to accompany the equally-popular Mother's Day, and these holidays are here to remind us how important family is to us all, no matter which month or country we may be celebrating in. Happy Father's Day!