A History of Father’s Day

A History of Father's Day

Father’s day like most holidays is about buying gifts or going out to celebrate the fathers in our lives. Many people believe that this holiday was invented by card and gift manufacturers to sell more products. This is not true at all. In order to have Father’s Day recognized as a holiday took a lot of determination from many people. The creation of the holiday for Father’s Day ended up with a unique story.

In fact, some historians have recorded that there was some sort of tradition to celebrate Father’s Day over 4,000 years ago. They have recorded a son had carved a message on a clay card for his dad. There are also religious beliefs behind Father’s Day. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes it as Saint Joseph’s day. Saint Joseph was husband to Mary and foster father to Jesus. But the actual history facts of Father’s Day begins in West Virginia.

Although many people do not acknowledge the first observance of Father’s Day that had taken place in Fairmont, West Virginia, it was the first U.S. celebration. The celebration took place July 5th 1908. The celebration was organized by Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton. She wanted to celebrate the lives of the 210 fathers who had been lost in the Monongah Mining Disaster that happened several months prior in Monongah, West Virginia.

Many believe that the first Father’s day celebration was held two years later on June 19 1910. This is believed possibly because West Virginia did not officially register the Holiday. The celebration of 1910 was done through the efforts of Sonora Smart Dodd, from Spokane Washington. After Sonora listened to a church sermon in 1909 about a newly recognized Mother’s Day, she felt strongly that fatherhood also need recognition. She wanted a celebration that honored fathers much like her own. Sonora’s father William Smart who was a Civil War veteran was left to raise his family alone when his wife died while giving birth to their sixth child. Sonora was just 16 years old when this happened.

The Spokane YMCA, along with ministerial alliance endorsed the idea and helped it to spread by celebrating Father’s Day in 1910. Sonora had also suggested that the holiday be celebrated on her father’s birthday which was June 5th. To begin young members of the YMCA went to church wearing roses, a red rose to honor a living father, and white rose to honor a deceased one.

Although the holiday was supported by the YMCA and YWCA it took many years to make the holiday official.

Fathers day was often met with laughter, the holiday was gathering attention slowly, but unfortunately for the wrong reasons. It was the target of jokes from the local newspapers. Many saw it as the first step in filling the calendar with mindless promotions. Bills to have national recognition of Father’s Day were introduced in congress in 1913. Congress resisted fearing it would become commercialized.

In 1924 Calvin Coolidge recommended that the day be observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. In 1957 Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers.

In 1966 President Lyndon B Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers. He designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later the day was made a permanent nation holiday when President Richard Nixon signed into law in 1972. To this day all countries celebrate some form of Father’s Day. Like many other holidays, it is one that many people look forward to as they are able to celebrate a certain person that has touched their lives in some way. Whether this person is a father to you, an influence in your life, a brother, or a grandfather, this is a very special day to remember those men that care and love us.


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