The History of Fathers Day

Where did Father’s Day start?

The idea of celebrating Fathers day spread to the UK from America.

Some people cite the  a church sermon made in West Virginia, USA in 1908 in memory of 362 men killed in explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines. However, this was intended as a commemoration, not an annual holiday. Credit for the annual celebration is more usually attributed to Mrs Sonora Dodd.

Mrs. Dodd’s mother had died during childbirth, leaving her father, William Jackson Smart, to raise his five sons and daughter on his own.  In 1910, she attended a Mother’s Day church service and decided that her father had made just as much effort in raising the family as mothers did. She decided his efforts should be honoured in the same way – with a special day. Approaching the Spokane Ministerial Association and the local YMCA, Mrs Dodd’s asked them to support her proposal. Originally intended to take place on her father’s birthday, the celebration had to be postponed until the third Sunday of June.

The first Fathers day celebration took place on 19th June 1910 in Spokane.

An official holiday

Attempts were made to make Father’s Day an official holiday by introducing a bill to Congress in 1913. It was approved by US President Woodrow Wilson, however, Congress worried that the new holiday would be too commercialized and so defeated two attempts to formally recognize the holiday.

Stopping just short of issuing a national proclamation, in 1924 US President Calvin Coolidge recommended that the day be observed by the nation. He suggested that states should hold their own Father’s Day observances. His formal proclamation designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day to “establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”
Following an accusation by Senator Margaret Chase Smith that Congress had been ignoring fathers for 40 years, in 1956/7 a Joint Resolution of Congress finally gave recognition to Father’s Day.
In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the first presidential proclamation honouring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. But it was not until 1972, when President Richard Nixon made it a permanent national holiday by law.
black and white boy child childhood
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