The Origins of Father’s Day

We would like to take this opportunity to wish our father, and all fathers out there, a very happy and special Father’s Day.  Of course, we cannot let this day pass without looking back and wondering how the celebration started and who the brilliant individual was that kickstarted the idea.  In just another shining example of why Washington is such a great state, credit for Father’s Day is officially given to Miss Sonora Dodd of Spokane, WA.  Dodd was one of six children raised by her single father and Civil War Veteran, Sgt. William Jackson Smart.

While listening to a sermon at church on Mother’s Day, she thought about all her father had done for her and her siblings and decided fathers should have a day, too. Because Dodd’s father was born in June, she encouraged churches in her area, Spokane, Wash., to honor fathers that month.

– Library of Congress

Washington became the first state to hold a state-wide Father’s Day celebration in June 1909.  The idea took off, with President Woodrow Wilson even approving the idea in 1916, although he did not make it a National Holiday.  The day was widely celebrated but not nationally recognized until 1966, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation to declare the Third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.  Tricky Dick Nixon himself made the proclamation permanent six years later.

Consolidation vs. Commercialization

There was a movement in the 1920s to consolidate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day into one day – Parent’s Day.  People of the time felt as though both parents should be celebrated together, and also that the commercialization of the two days was excessive.  However, when the Great Depression rolled around, merchants were desperate for any source of income.  Two separate present-gifting holidays were too good to split up.  For that reason, the days stayed separate and Father’s Day was even marketed as a “Second Christmas” for fathers.  Retailers pushed hats, watches, ties, suits, tools, etc. in the lead up to Father’s Day weekend.  The success of this marketing transformed into a celebration for our men overseas during WWII.  Economists estimate that over $1 billion ever year are spent on Father’s Day gifts.


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