Every year we take time to remind our fathers and/or father figures why we love and appreciate them. Whether we give them a funky gift or spend the day with them, we want to thank them for all they do, just as we do every Mother’s Day for our wonderful mothers and mother figures. In this day and age everyone has their own definition of father and father figure, but why do we celebrate it on a single day in the month of June? What is the story behind Father’s Day?
The first known celebration honoring fathers was July 5, 1908. A church in West Virginia held an event in honor of fathers following the death of 362 men in the previous year’s explosions at a coal mine in Monongah. However, the celebration was a one-time event and was not repeated.
The following year, Spokane, Washington native Sonora Smart Dodd had an idea. Inspired by her father William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran and single father of six, she set out to establish a way to recognize fathers for their efforts similar to Mother’s Day. She visited local shops and churches to garner support, as well as contacting government officials. Her efforts were successful and the first official Father’s Day was June 19, 1910, Dodd’s father’s birthday month. Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge supported the holiday and urged others to as well, but it was not until President Lyndon B. Johnson issued a proclamation in 1966 recognizing the special day. It was officially a national holiday in 1972, after being signed into law by President Nixon.
At the time, many individuals disdained the holiday, which is celebrated as a religious day in other countries. According to history.com, men, in particular, opposed the domestication of “manliness with flowers and gift-giving” and the purchasing of gifts “paid for by the father himself.” Some did attempt to ax both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and were in favor of a single Parents’ Day, but their efforts were derailed once the Great Depression hit. Struggling business owners advertised products by considering Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for the men. After the beginning of World War II, many considered the day a way to honor those in the American troops and used it to support war efforts.
So, dads, just know we are thinking of you. We all give a big thank you to you, our fathers, father figures, soon-to-be fathers, fathers who have lost a child, fathers who have passed, foster fathers and all the fathers in-between.