The History of Father’s Day

Father’s Day is fast approaching!  Celebrated on the third Sunday of June every year in the United States and many other countries, it falls on June 17 this year.  But how much do you know about the history of this holiday for dad’s?

One of the earliest attempts at setting up a day for fathers was celebrated on July 5, 1908 in Fairmont, West Virginia.  Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton, possibly influenced by the first celebration of Mother’s Day which occured that same year and not far away, organized the event to recognize the lives of 210 fathers who died in the Monongah Mining disaster on December 6, 1907.  The holiday was unfortunately not officially registered by the state and was forgotten until 1972.

Father’s Day as we know it was started by Sonora Smart Dodd in Spokane, Washington in 1910.  The only daughter, Sorona was sixteen when her mother died in childbirth.  She helped her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War Veteran from Arkansas, raise her five brothers and was moved to celebrate her father’s pivotal role in her life after hearing a church sermon on the newly recognized Mother’s Day.  Originally, she had suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, as the day for the new holiday, but the Spokane Ministerial Alliance was not able to arrange the festivities until the third Sunday of June.  In 1913, the first legislation was proposed to recognize the holiday nationally.  Congress resisted for years, however, out of fear that the holiday would become commercialized.  President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation in 1966 that designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.  In 1972, President Richard Nixon made it a permanent national holiday.

Over a hundred years have passed since Sonora Smart Dodd first suggested that fathers like hers be honored, and we are still coming together as a nation to recognize the vital role of fathers in our lives.  Whether your father is a single parent or working long hours to support your family, he’s sure to appreciate a day of thanks.

Check back here regularly for more suggestions of how to let your father just how grateful you are for all he does.  If you’re absolutely stumped for what to get him, feel free to comment and maybe we can help!  Does your father know the origins of Father’s Day?  Maybe you could tell him the story as part of your own celebration!

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