The History of Father’s Day

Sunday was a couple of different holidays here in the United States, but one of them was Father’s Day. I did a history of Mother’s Day post a few years ago (May 2019 to be specific), but I’ve never done a Father’s Day history post. It’s time that we change that!

So Father’s Day actually came about as a complement to Mother’s Day. In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd heard about the Mother’s Day celebrations that had occurred. Her own father was a widower and had raised her and her five siblings. Sonora drummed up support for her idea and Spokane, Washington, was the first city to celebrate Father’s Day on June 10, 1910.

However, people were not as eager to celebrate fathers as they were mothers because it seemed to emasculate men by giving them flowers or other similar gifts. Men also didn’t like that they were given gifts that their money had purchased (because the men were often the only source of income for the household). So as the idea gained traction, it also faced a lot of resistance.

In the following decades (the 1920s and 30s), groups protested the holiday (and Mother’s Day), instead proposing the idea of a Parents’ Day for all parents to be respected. If you’re familiar with American history, however, then you should know that the 1930s was also known as the Great Depression. People had little money and many stores went out of business. Struggling stores actually advertised for Father’s Day, proposing it as a “Second Christmas for men.” This way, they could hopefully have more sales to stay in business.

It was World War II that really cemented the idea of Father’s Day. Not only was it honoring fathers, but it was also a great way to show American patriotism and support the troops. This effort allowed Father’s Day to be a nationwide event by the end of the war.

It wasn’t until 1972, however, where Father’s Day became a government holiday. Richard Nixon, who was aiming for Presidential reelection signed the proclamation in the hopes to gain more voters. It worked, he ended up winning the election, and Father’s Day has remained a holiday.

I know not everyone may have someone they consider to be a father. And a father is not necessarily the same as a dad. Any man can be a father. But it takes great skill to step up and be a dad.

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