The History of Father’s Day

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The history of Father’s Day in the United State goes back over a century. It was first celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Washington State. However, it was over 6 decades later, 1972 before it became a nationwide holiday. 58 years after Mother’s Day became an official holiday.

The campaign to celebrate fathers in the nation did not have the same enthusiasm as that was with mothers.

On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event wholly in honors of fathers, a one-time event that included a sermon dedicated to the 362 men who had died in explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, the previous December.

Then Sonora Smart Dodd, a daughter of a widower in Spokane, Washington attempted to have an official holiday which would be equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents, was successful. She went to local churches, the YMCA, storekeepers, and officials to drum up support for the holiday. Then on June 19, 1910, Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day.

In 1972, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday.

The idea of fatherhood changed as well. It’s not viewed as the “feminine model” with flowers, but it has become more of a day that celebrates what Dad likes to do, whether it’s going fishing or flying or go-carting! It focuses on the larger roles that dads play with their children.

Partly, this change is due to the way society has evolved. There are no longer huge armies of workers toiling away in industrial factories, while women spend hours hand stitching and handwashing the family’s clothes. The modern role of the father has changed so that mothers and fathers are partners, each taking more responsibility within family life.

Fathers are now seen as significant influences on children; we know from many studies what happens when a father figure is lacking. In a sense, today Father’s Day helps to demonstrate the importance and value of fatherhood—and the gifts beyond material goods that a father bestows on his children and family.

Today, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June. And Economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 Billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.

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