Father’s Day

This Sunday, June 17, 2018, is Father’s Day in the United States. Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and their influence in society, including male parenting. In the United States, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June, but it is celebrated at different times in other parts of the world. Many countries celebrate it during the months of April through May, while others celebrate it during the months of July through November. It is a complementary holiday to Mother’s Day and other family-related holidays, such as Grandparent’s Day.

Father’s Day goes by different names depending on where it is being celebrated. Here are some examples:

  • GermanyVatertag
  • Haiti:    Fėtes des peres            
  • Latvia: Tėvu diena
  • Russian Federation: Defender of the Fatherland Day
  • Norway: Farsdag

History of Father’s Day

It appears that Father’s Day was celebrated in Catholic Europe as early as the Middle Ages, typically on March 19th, as the feast day of Saint Joseph. The celebration was brought to America by the Spanish and Portuguese settlers.

The nation’s first statewide celebration of Father’s Day took place on June 19, 1910 in the State of Washington thanks to the efforts of Sonora Smart Dodd, who wanted to honor her father, William Jackson Smart, a civil war veteran and a widower who raised his six children. She was inspired to have a holiday for fathers after she heard a sermon about Mother’s Day in 1909 at Central Methodist Episcopal Church. She told her pastor her idea and suggested that the celebration take place on June 5th, which was her father’s birthday. But, because the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, the date was changed to the third Sunday of June.

Father’s Day was not accepted with the same fervor as Mother’s Day because as one florist said “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have”. Many viewed Father’s Day as another attempt for retailers to make money. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson wanted to make it a federal holiday, but Congress feared it would become commercialized. During the 1920s and 1930s, there was an effort by some people to get rid of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and instead have a Parents’ Day because as Parents’ Day activist and radio performer Robert Spere said “both parents should be loved and respected together”.  President Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers in 1966, but it didn’t become a national holiday until President Richard Nixon signed in into law in 1972.

You can learn more about Father’s Day on Wikipedia.