A Bit of History about Father’s Day

A Bit of History about Father’s Day

The nation’s first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in the state of Washington. However, it was not until 1972 – 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official – that the day honoring fathers became a nationwide holiday in the United States.

The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm, perhaps because, as one florist explained, “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.”

On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday.

The next year, a Spokane, Washington, woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910.

Slowly, the holiday spread. In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day.

In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last. Today, economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.

Today, the day honoring fathers is celebrated in the United States on the third Sunday of June.  Father’s Day 2017 occurs on June 18. Next year, Father’s Day 2018 falls on June 17.

In other countries–especially in Europe and Latin America–fathers are honored on St. Joseph’s Day, a traditional Catholic holiday that falls on March 19.

(Taken from History.com)

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