Father’s Day originated in 1908 after the success of Mother’s Day a few months prior. Its intent is to celebrate fathers both biological and assumed for their role in the structure of the family, the rearing of children, and their importance in society.
Rumors abound about who started it and when but the first officially known date is June 5, 1908.
In 1910, a celebration was held in Spokane on the third Sunday of June. This would become the tradition for Father’s Day moving forward and helped to submit the petition for an official holiday to be declared.
Sonora Dodd who wanted to honor her father, who had single-handedly raised his six children, had initiated this.
Only a few short years later, Father’s Day stopped being promoted and slowly fell back into obscurity. Dodd returned to school and left Spokane for the time being.
When she returned in the 1930’s, she started promoting the holiday again. Dodd helped raise the popularity of the holiday later collaborating with trade groups who would benefit from the holiday the most.
Americans resisted the holiday at first because of the commercialization early on. They saw it as a cheap way to capitalize on the success of Mother’s Day. Many trade publications and newspapers used satirical attacks and jokes mocking the holiday.
This kept the popularity down in the United States for quite a while. Many people had mixed feelings about the holiday however, it was widely seen as a cheap imitation for many years.
Due to the eventual heightened popularity, President Woodrow Wilson looked to make the holiday official. President Coolidge followed with his support. The struggle to make the declaration official took over 40 years until finally President Lyndon Johnson signed the proclamation declaring Father’s Day to be a national holiday. In 1972, President Nixon established a permanent national observance to be the third Sunday every June.
There were many attempts to make Father’s Day a holiday – some before Dodd and some during her campaign though there were separate attempts. In 1911, Jane Addams tried to make the holiday official in Chicago though her suggestion was denied.
In 1912, a Methodist pastor held an event in Vancouver, WA celebrating Father’s Day. They believed it was the first of its kind. A Lions Club International member, Henry Meek, claimed he first had the idea in 1915. Lions Club International still herald Meek as the “Originator of Father’s Day.”
To his credit, he made many attempts to make Father’s Day an official holiday and give it the recognition it deserved.
Father’s Day has gained popularity of the years immensely. It is celebrated with as much enthusiasm today as Mother’s Day has been since the beginning.
Father’s Day is not just restricted to the US – many countries celebrate their own version of the holiday. They are celebrated widely on different dates with different names but the meaning and heart of the holiday is the same.
People everywhere stop to honor their Fathers and celebrate their accomplishments and everything their Fathers have done for their family.