Most of us celebrate Father’s Day but have no idea where the holiday came from. I didn’t know either so I decided to do some research and learn about the origins of this international holiday.
In the United States, Father’s Day celebrated on the third Sunday of June every year. a there are a few different stories that culminated in the celebration of the first Father’s Day. Depending on who you ask, one or the other of them was the inspiration for Father’s Day. Both stories are really inspiring, and both stories contributed to the founding of this holiday. So, I’ll cover both of them because they both deserve to be told.
In 1907, the first Father’s Day was supposedly invented by a woman by the name of Sonora Smart Dodd, and celebrated in Spokane, Washington on June 19,1910. Sonora’s father was a soldier who fought in the Civil War. He was a veteran by the name of William Jackson Smart, who bravely raised his six kids after the war without the help of his wife, who had died. Sonora wanted to honor her father, so she proposed a large celebration in the town on June 5, her father’s birthday. Unfortunately, she didn’t give the event organizers enough time to prepare for the event, so the day was rescheduled to the third Sunday in June. This became the day on which everyone celebrates Father’s Day to this day. Once everyone agreed on the day, the first annual Father’s Day celebration was held at the YMCA gymnasium in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910.
Sonora says that she was inspired to start Father’s Day because of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, who founded Mother’s Day. So, the two holidays are directly related, and inspired by one another.
The other story surrounding the origins of Father’s Day begins around the same time, in July of 1908. A woman by the name of Grace Golden Clayton was mourning the loss of her father and his friends, who had died in a mining disaster. In December of the previous year, the Monogah Mining Disaster killed a whopping 361 men, of whom 250 were fathers. This disaster left the entire county in mourning for a long while thereafter, and eventually led to the desire to honor these men, eventually culminating in a Father’s Day celebration. Because of the grave nature of the ceremonies, and because they took place on the day following Independence Day, this early celebration of Father’s Day never really took off in a widespread way. Because of this, Sonora’s story has become the accepted origin of Father’s Day. However, both groups of people deserve equal recognition today.
Of course no date can become a national holiday without some serious backing and some presidential support. Public figures, such as William Jennings Bryan immediately supported Father’s Day, and became a driving force behind the establishment. They helped to get the ideal Father’s Day into the public’s mind in a powerful and widespread way. Once the ideal Father’s Day began to take off, President Woodrow Wilson was recommended to endorse the holiday by his family in 1916. Later, President Calvin Coolidge recommended it as a national holiday in 1924. However, neither of these two presidents actually declared Father’s Day to be a national holiday. Instead, it was President Lyndon B. Johnson who ended up making Father’s Day a national holiday in 1966, proclaiming that it should be celebrated on the third Sunday of June every year in United States of America.
Father’s Day as a holiday, although it had been officially declared, was not widely celebrated in a public manner until the Richard Nixon presidency in 1972.
More people call their fathers on Fathers Day than on any other day of the year, so many so that the number of calls in the United States is actually significantly higher on Father’s Day because of this.
No matter why you celebrate Father’s Day, the important thing is to honor the hard work and sacrifices of Fathers all over the world, and what they have done to ensure the success of our generation.
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