father and son

Father’s Day doesn’t quite have the allure that Mother’s Day has because men are not as sentimental as women; however, that doesn’t mean fathers shouldn’t be recognized.

On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first organized event to exclusively honor fathers. The Sunday sermon was held in memory of three hundred and sixty-two men who had died in the previous December’s explosion at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah. Two hundred and fifty of the men were fathers, leaving many children fatherless. The event was a one-time commemoration; however, it paved the way for future male-focused celebrations and acknowledgments.

Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, is credited with creating Father’s Day. Her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran raised Sonora and her five siblings by himself after his wife died during childbirth. Sonora rallied her local churches, the YMCA, shop owners, and government officials in Spokane, Washington. Everyone was very supportive and saw value in the holiday. On June 19, 1910, Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day.

Slowly, other states joined the celebratory efforts. In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unroll a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington D.C. But the day would not become official until 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed the holiday into law and made the celebration a permanent national holiday which occurs on the third Sunday of June.

In case you are a history buff or interested in learning a little more about Father’s Day, here are a few fun facts.

  • The film “Underwood”, released in 1996 is centered around a mobster that attempts to solve his father’s murder and settles the score on Father’s Day.
  • During the Great Depression, even though it wasn’t a nationally recognized holiday, retailers marketed Father’s Day as a “second Christmas” for men. They promoted goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs, and other sporting goods.
  • It is estimated that Americans spend a total of $17 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.
  • During the 1920s and 1930s, there was a movement that pushed to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. The groups supporting the movement argued that the days should be combined and recognized as Parents’ Day. Even though it isn’t as popular, Parents’ Day is a holiday that is observed on the fourth Sunday of July every year. The United States created the day in 1994 under President Bill Clinton to mark appreciation for the commitment of parents towards their children.
  • In other countries, especially in Europe and Latin America, fathers are honored on St. Joseph’s Day – a traditional Catholic holiday that falls on March 19th.
  • According to Hallmark, Father’s Day is the fourth-largest card-sending day with an average of 72 million cards given every year.
  • According to Census, in 2020, men make up 20 percent of single parents.
  • Census says as of the year 2020, there are an estimated 215,000 stay-at-home dads in the United States.
  • In Germany, Father’s Day is recognized as Men’s Day. On this day, fathers celebrate by getting drunk with wagons of beer and indulging in delicious foods. Police and emergency personnel are on high alert during Men’s Day.
  • Ties are the most popular gift for dads on Father’s Day.
  • On the original petition sent to Congress, by Dodd, the spelling of Father’s Day read Fathers’ Day.

Father’s Day is a special day to honor fathers and celebrate fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of father figures on society. The national holiday has come a long way and is a wonderful way to honor those important men in our lives.

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