The History Of Father’s Day

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On the third Sunday in June every year, people worldwide honor fathers, fatherhood, and their role in the family. This year, Father’s Day was celebrated on June 18, 2023.

It’s a day to show appreciation not only to the fathers but also to the father figures and husbands in people’s lives. 

But while many people gather to celebrate this occasion, only a few may know about its origins and how it started.

So today, I will share with you how Father’s Day was established as a national holiday.

Did you know that this tradition was not completely accepted at first? However, people began to support and accept it, thanks to a woman campaigning for it for 62 years.

Yes. You read that right!

Meet Sonora Louise Smart Dodd. 

Sonora Louise Smart Dodd

She was only 16 when her mother died in childbirth in 1898. She and her five younger brothers were raised by their widowed father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran. They lived in Spokane, Washington.

William Jackson Smart

In 1909, Sonora thought there should also be a day to celebrate fathers, including his father while listening to the sermon when she attended church on Mother’s Day. During that time, Mother’s Day was also just becoming established as a holiday.

Because of this idea, she created a petition for the first-ever Father’s Day. Sonora also argued that this holiday should be celebrated in early June, her father’s birthday. 

Unfortunately, her petition only garnered two signatures. But that didn’t stop Sonora. She went to local churches, shopkeepers, the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association), and government officials to support her. 

She was successful as several local church communities supported and participated. However, there was a condition. Sonora must push the date to the third Sunday in June to give them time to prepare.

On June 19, 1910, the state of Washington celebrated its first Father’s Day at the Spokane YMCA. 

This celebration inspired Sonora even more, to continue promoting Father’s Day to be celebrated nationwide. She traveled the United States, campaigning for this holiday.

Slowly, the holiday spread. In 1924, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, America’s 30th President, supported and encouraged state governments to honor Father’s Day.

President Calvin Coolidge

Then in 1966, Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th U.S. President, issued the first proclamation recognizing Father’s Day. However, despite presidents favoring the holiday, it wasn’t an official holiday, as none approved it.

Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson

Finally, Pres. Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, signed the proclamation in 1972. This designated the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day. 

Pres. Richard Nixon

President Nixon even wrote, “Let each American make this Father’s Day an occasion for renewal of the love and gratitude we bear to our fathers, increasing and enduring through all the years,” he wrote in the document.”

And on June 18, 1972, the first official Father’s Day celebration occurred.

How Father’s Day is Celebrated

Fathers were honored by families wearing roses during the first-ever Father’s Day in Spokane, Washington. Wearing a red rose indicated that one’s father was alive, and white for fathers who were already deceased.

Today, the holiday is celebrated in various ways. Some people send cards or give special gifts like tickets to see their favorite baseball team. Others celebrate with homecooked food and gather with families.

What are your thoughts about this? How did you celebrate Father’s Day? Please comment below with your answers.

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