Why Is Father's Day Different In Australia?

Having one day per year dedicated to celebrating the father figures in our lives is not exclusive to  Australia. In fact, most countries worldwide set aside a specific day to celebrate, honour and appreciate our dads.

However, you might have noticed that Australia celebrates Father’s Day on a different date to other countries. Thanks to the internet, many of us have been caught out and wished our dads Happy Father’s Day in the wrong month! If this scenario sounds familiar, you’re probably wondering why Father’s Day isn’t held on the same day internationally. 

Australian Father’s Day is held on a different date to the rest of the world - the first Sunday in September. Not only do we celebrate it on an entirely different day, but Aussie culture also has its own unique Father’s Day traditions. Some of the ways we show appreciation to our dads aren’t common in any other country. 

Read on to understand how this tradition came to be and why Australians continue to observe this yearly event differently from the rest of the world.

When Is Father's Day In Australia?

In Australia, Father’s Day is observed on the first Sunday of September. On the other hand, most parts of the world celebrate Father’s Day three months earlier, on the third Sunday in June.

In 2021, the date of Father’s Day in Australia will be Sunday September 5th. 

This special day is set aside to show appreciation for fathers in our lives. But Fathers Day isn’t just for our biological fathers; it’s for all the male role models in our lives, like stepfathers, fathers-in-law, grandfathers, foster fathers, teachers, leaders, and elders.  

Why Is Father's Day Different In Australia?

There are a few explanations as to why Father’s Day in Australia is celebrated in September and not in June. Nobody really knows the answer, but the Aussie date spaces out Father’s Day six months from Mother’s Day in May. When first introduced, Australia used to celebrate Father’s Day in June, but most people saw the holiday as a ‘rip off’ of Mother’s Day. Harsh!

Records tell us that Father’s Day only really took off in Australia around the time the date was moved to September. It’s possible someone decided to evenly space the holidays rather than celebrate Father’s Day just five weeks after Mother’s Day. 

A common myth is that Father’s Day was introduced to Australia after hearing news of the June holiday overseas. Rather than wait until the following year, the celebration was scheduled a few months ahead. However, looking back at newspaper coverage shows this to be clearly false! In fact, the scheduling of Father’s Day was an ongoing debate between 1920 and 1936. 

The reason Australians settled on September as the permanent date of Father’s Day still remains a mystery. 

Another explanation is ‘holiday fatigue’. This term suggests that Aussies needed a break from back to back holidays - whether emotionally or financially, we’re not sure! From the very first day of the year until June, Australians are bombarded with special events and holidays almost weekly. As such, celebrating Father’s Day in September allows people to recuperate and recover from all the expenses.

September is also the start of Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. This means that from a marketing perspective, Father’s Day is a perfect opportunity to sell virtually any item that dads enjoy or find interesting. It is no wonder that outdoor tools, sports and camping gear, fishing gear and travel essentials become hot sale items during this month. It all boils down to convenience and timing.

 

When Did Australia Start Celebrating Father's Day?

It wasn’t until the 1930s that Father’s Day was widely recognised in Australia, and it didn’t reach present-day levels of popularity until the 1960s. According to newspaper records, the concept of Father’s Day was a bit of a ‘silly American idea’ to Australians in the 1910s, after it was introduced in the United States.

However, reports that Father’s Day was introduced to Australia in 1936 are unfortunately not accurate. The Father’s Day debate had already been playing out for decades, with some forward-thinking commenters pushing to recognise the importance of fatherhood and strengthen family bonds with a special holiday. 

Mother’s Day has been celebrated in Australia from 1910 onwards and became widely recognised in the 1920s, but it took much longer for Father’s Day to be generally accepted by the public. Until the 1930s, newspaper articles continued to suggest Father’s Day as a ‘new holiday’ or question why it doesn’t yet exist. 

Initially revolving around special church services, Father’s Day began appearing in commercial advertising in the 1930s, indicating the holiday had reached the mainstream. By the 1950s, Father’s Day was recognised in official calendars, and in 1956, the Father’s Day Council of Australia was formed. To this day, they present an annual ‘Father of the Year’ award to an inspirational Dad, with state-level awards also granted. 

Australian Father's Day Traditions 

In Australia, Father’s Day has become synonymous with gift-giving and family bonding. Although these practices aren’t uncommon in other parts of the world, these traditions have adopted aspects of the Australian culture to include local activities or gift ideas found only in Australia. 

Take a look at some of the ways Father’s Day is celebrated in Australia:

Father’s Day Stalls

Father’s Day stalls are holiday stalls that pop up at schools and events before Father’s Day in Australia. Usually run by schools or organisations, these stalls sell affordable gifts for dads that younger kids can pick out and wrap themselves. Typical gifts include all the classics like shaving gear, hankies, socks, keychains and the iconic ‘world’s best dad’ mugs. ,

Day Out With Dad

A lot of Australians like to spend Father’s Day outdoors. For this reason, an outdoor experience with dad or the rest of the family is an ideal Father’s Day activity. Some of our favourite outdoor activities during Father’s Day include hiking and bushwalking, race tracks, sports events, and a day at the beach. For many dads, spending some time out with the family is just as good as any gift.

Father’s Day Charity Activities

Raising money for a cause is a popular Father’s Day activity among Australians. Some of the usual activities include charity runs, performances, auctions, and more. Father’s Day charity runs and other events often support men’s health causes, like prostate cancer research, Men’s Sheds and The Movember Foundation.

Picnics And Barbecues

Food plays an important part in most Father’s Day activities in Australia. For this reason, many Father’s Day traditions and activities usually revolve around food (and don’t forget the ice-cold beer too). Some of the most popular food-centred activities include picnics, barbeques, fetes, festivals and other outdoor events, including sausages sizzles, food trucks and more. These are often run by community groups or schools, but a barbeque at the park or the beach with family is just as popular.  

Father’s Day Church Services

As Father’s Day is held on a Sunday, many churches hold a special event or service for the occasion. In fact, this is how Father’s Day began and the reason it’s always celebrated on a Sunday. While Father’s Day is no longer a religious occasion, Aussies who do attend church can still expect a special service or extra activities on Father’s Day.

What Should I Get My Dad For Father's Day?

For Father’s Day, the items that dads can readily use usually are the most popular ones. Take a look at these perfect gift ideas for Father’s Day in Australia:

Father’s Day Gift Hampers

Hampers are a popular present, especially among those who want to give food as a gift. Hampers can either contain an assortment of items or a variety of similar products that your dad loves. For example, you can give a DIY gift basket of all your dad’s favourite snacks, wine or beer. You can even mix it up with the traditional socks and jocks while creating a unique gift that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Personalised Father’s Day Gift Boxes 

What do you get for the dad who has everything? A personalised Father’s Day gift that’s completely unique! An engraved wooden gift box is the perfect gift, since the range of uses is pretty much endless, and you can choose your design to match. If your dad loves to cook, for example, a handcrafted gift box the size of the spice jars he uses is a practical and one-of-a-kind present. A keepsake box can be used to store souvenirs or mementos your dad collects, Grandad’s treasured family photos and letters, small parts in a workshop, bits and pieces for his favourite hobby, shaving gear, or anything your imagination comes up with. You can even create your own Father’s Day gift hamper using a custom keepsake box he can treasure for years to come. 

Grooming & Shaving Kits

Another great gift idea for dads is a grooming kit packed with things to keep dad (or grandpa) looking suave! Regardless of what you may think, everyone likes to look, feel and smell good, and fathers are no exception. A pampering kit has grooming, hair care, and skincare items that are perfect for dads. These kits usually contain cologne, shaving products, and mens’ skincare goodies. To take it to the next level, including a high-quality razor or shaving brush can really make a memorable gift. 

Gift Experiences & Sports Events 

One great gift for dads on Father’s Day is tickets to their favourite sporting event. Sought-after tickets to a big game for him and a mate are a sure-fire win for dads who are mad about their favourite team. Gift experiences can be a great alternative if your dad would prefer to be in the middle of the action. . For instance, you can buy him a day pass for a race car driving experience or a jet boating session. Not all experience gifts are the high stakes kind, though - a craft brewery tour or fine dining voucher can be a thoughtful Father’s Day gift as well. 

Electronics & Gadgets

Although some more old-fashioned dads aren’t too comfortable with the latest technology, plenty of tech-inclined fathers enjoy the excitement of getting the newest gadget. If your dad is keen on gaming, stereo gear, the latest Samsung or his home cinema, spending a little bit more on these types of gifts can be worth it. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box - some of the latest home automation devices and smartwatches make great practical gifts for dad. With their price always coming down and their ease of use going up, drones have never been more accessible as a Father’s Day gift. 

 

Related Questions

 

Is Father's Day A Public Holiday In Australia?

Although Father’s Day is a popular holiday in Australia, this annual event isn’t actually a public holiday. Even if it falls on a Sunday, regular Sunday opening hours are observed on Father’s Day. This means that businesses that generally operate on Sundays continue to welcome customers without much interruption, and unfortunately, some dads may be stuck working on Father’s Day.

 

Is Father's Day The Same In Every Country?

Although many countries worldwide are similar when it comes to the celebration of Father’s Day, this yearly event can vary from place to place. In most countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, and China, Father’s Day is celebrated in the month of June. 

In some European countries, including Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, Father's Day is held in November. Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea all celebrate Father’s Day in September.