The Origin of Father’s Day

Father's Day Origin

Father’s Day is well celebrated every year as well, just like Mother’s Day. It is a special day where we honor and celebrate the special men in our lives. Usually, families plan some fun activities like a barbeque party to enjoy this one special day for our fathers. Of course, we must show our love and honor to our father or to both our parents every day, but there is this one special day reserved for them once a year to make them feel extra loved. Father’s Day is usually if not always celebrated on the third Sunday of June in the Philippines or in other countries as well, which means this year’s Father’s Day will take place on June 18, 2023.

But believe it or not, Father’s Day is not a day that is well recognized or accepted more than 100 years ago. In fact, the history of Father’s Day is not a direct line from idea to acceptance as opposed to what you might have imagined.

The rich history of Father’s Day started in the early 1900s when a certain activist named Anna Jarvis proposed Mother’s Day as a holiday. Mother’s Day was then declared an official holiday by President Woodrow Wilson within six years of its inception. Since Mother’s Day came first, the institution of such a holiday has a huge significance to the birth of Father’s Day because it was the inspiration for Father’s Day. The celebration of our brave mothers paved the way for Father’s Day. Because a few years after the establishment of Mother’s Day, a certain Sonora Smart Dodd established an official holiday equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. The birth of first-ever Father’s Day, which was still called Fathers’ Day at that time, was first celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Washington state, although it was not yet named a national holiday until US President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

Let’s dive into more details regarding the first event that explicitly honored and recognized fathers for the first time ever. In 1910, Sonora Smart Dodd honored her father at the local YMCA. She was inspired to create a similar holiday for fathers after listening to a sermon about Mother’s Day. She wanted to give honor and recognize her father William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran and single father to six children. The first-ever Father’s Day event was held by Sonora Smart Dodd at the YMCA in Spokane, Washington. She had convinced the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA to set aside a Sunday in June to celebrate fathers. She proposed June 5, in commemoration of her father’s birthday, but the ministers rejected it and chose the third Sunday in June so that they would have more time to prepare their sermons after Mother’s Day, which was customarily celebrated during the second Sunday in May.

However, despite the widely publicized events recognizing Father’s Day as a holiday, it still had slow progress. Not until the year 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson and his family personally observed the day. But still, the holiday did not catch on right away, perhaps due to the perceived similarity with Mother’s Day. Later on, or about eight years later, President Calvin Coolidge started to urge the state governments to observe Father’s Day as a holiday. He signed a resolution in favor of Father’s Day, urging everyone to initiate and maintain more intimate relations between fathers and their children.

Fast forward to the 1950s, Father’s Day became popular and was celebrated by most Americans although it was not yet recognized at the federal level. Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith urged Congress to pass a long-overdue law for over 40 years honoring both parents individually and not desist from honoring either one. In 1961, the proposal for Father’s Day resurfaced by Walt Horan during his House floor speech, he brought up Sonora Smart Dodd’s historic contribution to starting Father’s Day. He emphasized that Father’s Day has been long recognized by many Americans but has not yet been given any official recognition by Congress. In 1963, months before his tragic assassination, President John F. Kennedy was named the Father of the Year by the National Father’s Day Committee. He was a father of two.

Finally, in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed and issued an executive order honoring fathers and made the third Sunday of June Father’s Day. Finally, the time has come! Over the years, the celebration of Father’s Day had spread from state to state only, and finally, after a long and tedious fight, it was declared officially a national holiday in 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed it into law. Congress passed an act officially recognizing Father’s Day as a national holiday.

Furthermore, there were two economic events that helped Father’s Day to push through and helped boost the idea that a holiday like Father’s Day does exist. First, with the Great Depression, when struggling retailers pushed the gift-giving holiday despite the economy facing difficulties and many people are pinching their pennies. The government needed reasons for people to spend money to help the economy to be back on its feet. Father’s Day was used as an excuse or occasion to get fathers some of the clothing and material goods they needed. It was a way to entice people to get their father the necktie or pair of socks that he probably would not buy for himself. In fact, neckties were mass-produced in the 1920s to keep up with the demand surrounding the unofficial holiday of Father’s Day.

Another event was during the war, World War II to be exact when they used it to invite people to show support and show appreciation for their fathers’ effort during war and for those who will join American troops. Men were on the front lines during that time.

During Father’s Day, we remember and honor their sacrifices for our family. But the idea of celebrating Father’s Day is not the same as how we celebrate Mother’s Day with activities such as giving flowers to our mothers, in short, celebrating Father’s Day is not viewed as the “feminine model” way of celebrating it. But rather, it has become more of a day that celebrates what our fathers like to do, whether it’s watching basketball games with them or cleaning the car in the garage. It focuses on the larger roles that the fathers play with their children. Father’s Day is one of the best days to demonstrate the importance and value of fatherhood that a father can bestow on his children and family. A lot of studies have already shown and proved what happens when a father figure is lacking in a family.

If you want to read a heartfelt story from a modern frontline father, read this article from Bria Homes– Father’s Day Special: A Day in the Life of a Frontliner Dad by Bria House and Lot. Another story about how fortunate a single father who won a brand new house and lot from Bria Homes through ABS-CBN’s top-rating morning show Magandang Buhay in their “Magandang Buhay, Magandang Bahay” segment.