Endearing ways to say “Father” around the world

First celebrated in 1910 to recognize the important role of fathers and to complement Mother’s Day, Father’s Day only became a permanent national holiday in the U.S. in 1972. It has been annually observed every third Sunday of June ever since. Today, several countries worldwide have adopted the American holiday that typically involves spending time and getting in touch with one’s father or father figure, and giving greeting cards or gifts.

To mark Father’s Day, we asked Gengo staff from 16 nationalities and compiled the different endearing ways to call one’s father around the world:
 

Japan

Celebrates Father’s Day on: third Sunday of June

  • Oto-san (お父さん), To-san (父さん), Papa (パパ), Oyaji (親父), Oto-chan (お父ちゃん), To-chan (父ちゃん)

In Japan, parents are at the top of the family hierarchy so children often use the most respectable form oto-san, when addressing their fathers or referring to someone else’s father. Papa is a friendlier and more affectionate term, while oya-ji, which translates to “old man”, is a very informal way to refer to one’s father when talking to someone else outside the family.
 

Italy

Celebrates Father’s Day on: March 19

  • Papa, Pà, Babbo (in some regions like Tuscany)

Largely influenced by Christianity, Italy celebrates Festa del Papà on the feast day of Saint Joseph, the foster father of Jesus Christ.
 

U.S./Canada

Celebrates Father’s Day on: third Sunday of June

  • Dad, Daddy, Papa

Father’s Day was founded by Sonora Smart Dodd from Spokane, Washington to honor her father, an American Civil War veteran and a single parent who raised six children.

Image by @SBphoto via Twenty20

Singapore

Celebrates Father’s Day on: third Sunday of June

  • Papa, Pa, Daddy, Bapa (Malay), Appa (Tamil)

In Singapore, family members often treat fathers to a satisfying meal at local hawker centers, restaurants, or hotels on this special day.
 

France/Belgium

Celebrates Father’s Day on: third Sunday of June (France), second Sunday of June (Belgium, except for Antwerp that honors fathers on March 19, St. Joseph’s Day)

  • Papa

In these countries, children usually greet their fathers, “Bonne Fête, Papa” and give them a small token of appreciation, like a handkerchief or a tie.
 

Taiwan

Celebrates Father’s Day on: August 8

  • 爸爸 (bàbà), 爸嗶 (bàbì), 爹地 (diē-di), 父親 (fùqīn), 爹 (diē), 多桑 (To-san)

In Taiwan, Father’s Day is not an official holiday but is now widely observed on August 8 as the Chinese word for eight is “ba” and the colloquial word for father is “ba-ba” – so the eighth day of the eighth month sounds similar to “Daddy”.
 

Australia

Celebrates Father’s Day on: first Sunday of September

  • Dad, Daddy, Father, Papa, Pa

Father’s Day is observed on the first Sunday of spring in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji.

Image by Aleksander Nakic via iStock

Spain

Celebrates Father’s Day on: March 19 (St. Joseph’s Day)

  • Papá, Papi

Like many European countries, El Día del Padre is also celebrated in Spain on the feast day of St. Joseph. On this day, loved ones give gifts or take their fathers to a nice meal in a restaurant to express their gratitude and affection.
 

Russia

Celebrates Father’s Day on: February 23

  • Папа (Papa), папочка (Papochka),папуля (Papulya), папенька (Papen’ka)

In Russia, the equivalent of Father’s Day is Defender of the Fatherland Day, a holiday that honors the men and women who are serving or were serving the Russian Armed Forces. This day is also referred to as Men’s Day or День Мужчин (Den’ Muzhchin), a counterpart of International Women’s Day.
 

Vietnam

Celebrates Father’s Day on: third Sunday of June

  • Bố, Ba, Tía, Cha, Bọ, Thầy, Cậu

In Vietnam, Ngày của Cha (Father’s Day) has only gained popularity in the last decade. It is not yet widely celebrated like International Women’s Day (March 8) or National Women’s Day (October 20), when society honors all mothers and women in general.
 

Philippines

Celebrates Father’s Day on: third Sunday of June

  • Itay, ‘Tay, Tatay, Pa, Papa, Pops, Daddy, Dad, Dadi

Figuratively speaking, fathers are called “haligi ng tahanan” in the Philippines, which is literally translated as “the pillar of the home” that provides strength and support.

Image by @kate_sept2004 via iStock

Hungary

Celebrates Father’s Day on: third Sunday of June

  • Apu, Apus, Apci

Apák napja is not as popular as Mother’s Day but for families who celebrate it, they usually create and give personalized gifts to their fathers.
 

Germany

Celebrates Father’s Day on: May 25, Ascension Day (39 days after Easter)

  • Vati, Papa, Papi

Father’s Day is also known as Männertag (Men’s day) in Germany and is marked with hand-pulled wagons, beer, and drinking all day long.
 

Netherlands

Celebrates Father’s Day on: third Sunday of June

  • Papa, Pa, Pap

Vaterdag is an important Dutch holiday when family members give presents to their fathers and enjoy a good meal together.

Do you have a special name you call your father or a unique way of celebrating Father’s Day in your country? Share them with us!

CATEGORIES /

Jenie Gabriel

The author

Jenie Gabriel

Jenie creates and coordinates content for Gengo's marketing team. Originally from the Philippines, she was an advertising creative in Singapore before moving to Tokyo. In her spare time, you’ll find her wandering around the city or planning her next escapade.


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