The History of Father’s Day

June 23, 2020

Photo Source: PxFuel

 

    Father’s Day is an international holiday that honors the dads of the world. Often, it involves giving gifts, visiting, or doing special activities to show your dad how much you appreciate him and love him. While Father’s Day is a cultural staple for many people across the world, it took a long time for Father’s Day to become an officially recognized holiday. 

 

    The first observation of Father’s day was in West Virginia in 1908 (Farmer’s Almanac). In the wake of the worst mining accident in United States history, Grace Clayton decided to hold a service honoring all fathers, especially those who had died in the accident. This would technically be the first recorded Father’s Day service, but it was not widely publicized. In the following year in Spokane, Washington, Sonora Louise Smart Dodd came up with the idea of a Father’s Day observance while she was listening to a Mother’s Day sermon (History). Raised by her dad, a widower of six children, she wanted a father-equivalent of Mother’s day to celebrate fathers. She drew up a petition, and while it only gathered two signatures at first, she gathered her local church communities to help participate (National Geographic). By the following year in 1910, the State of Washington officially made Father’s Day a state holiday. To celebrate, boys from the YMCA delivered presents to handicapped fathers, and minsters dedicated their sermons to fatherhood. Families also wore roses to honor their fathers—red roses for living fathers, white roses for the deceased. 

 

     However, Sonora would not stop at state recognition. She started her lifelong battle to make Father’s Day a national holiday. Over the next 50 years, she would travel the country to encourage others to observe Father’s Day. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson personally observed the holiday (Farmer’s Almanac). Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Lyndon B. Johnson signed resolutions in support of the holiday, but they did not make the holiday official (National Geographic). In 1972, Richard Nixon made the holiday official as the third Sunday in June (Sonora was 90 at the time when the holiday was made official—she would pass away six years later). 

 

     The United States isn’t the only country that celebrates Father’s Day. In Latin American and European countries, Father’s Day coincides with St. Joseph’s day, which falls on March 19th (History). In Thailand, Father’s Day lands on December 5th, former King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday (Date and Time). Other popular Father’s Days land on the first Sunday of September. Because Father’s Day is a relatively modern holiday, there is not really a codified way to celebrate Father’s Day. Families often give gifts. In fact, according to the American Retail Federation, a given family will spend $106.42 on average on their dad for Father's Day in a given year. Gift-giving is not absolutely required, however. The main sentiment is to make a special effort to make your father feel appreciated on a special day.

 

    Father’s Day is a holiday that aims to appreciate everything that dads do. Whether through visiting, giving gifts, or giving your dad a phone call, there are plenty of ways to make your dad feel special. While it took awhile from the conception of Father’s Day to the official observation, Father’s Day is now a commonly celebrated holiday across the world. 

 

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