June brings us the start of summer, vacation season, the end of the school year, and (last but certainly not least) Father’s Day. Yes, it’s time to celebrate that special man in your life, dear old dad. Did you know that there are more than 70 million fathers in the United States alone? Father’s Day is celebrated all over the world from March to December depending on the country you are in, but 49 different countries celebrate dad in June. We here at Symmetry always have love for the dads in our lives so we thought we would share with you the history as to how we came to celebrate fathers every third Sunday in June.
Some suggest that the idea of Father’s Day originates in Pagan sun worship because the Pagans saw the sun as the father of the universe and the June solstice occurs around this same time. Some contribute it back to the Middle Ages and center it around Saint Joseph’s day on March 19th. Catholic European and Latin American countries still celebrate on this day. The Coptic Church celebrates Saint Joseph on July 20th and their traditions date back as far as the fifth century. But what about the modern American Father’s Day?
Sadly, fathers didn’t feel the love as quickly as mothers did. Although Mother’s Day was made a national holiday by president Woodrow Wilson in 1914, fathers would have to wait another 58 years to be recognized nationally. President Richard Nixon was the one who finally declared Father’s Day to be a national holiday. However, the very first Father’s Day was documented as being celebrated on June 19th, 1910! If you want to know why it took dad so long to feel the love, apparently, we can blame flower retailers. The first Father’s Day was celebrated by pinning roses on your father’s jacket in church. A red rose commemorated a father who was alive and with his family while a white rose commemorated a father who had passed away. According to some historians, florists just didn’t see a large market in targeting dads so they opted to support Mother’s Day instead.
Other historians say it was father’s themselves that were reluctant to celebrate a day in which gifts were given to them that were often purchased with the money they earned through their own hard work. These negative thoughts almost pushed Father’s Day to the brink of extension until a few clever retailers decided that the best way to get through the Great Depression was to market Father’s Day as a “second Christmas” for men and began peddling socks, hats, neckties, pipes, and sporting goods as gift ideas. In 1938 the National Council for the Promotion of Father’s Day was formed by clothing retailers in New York City in order to promote the holiday. By the start of World War 2, retailers began arguing that Father’s Day was a way to honor our troops and especially those fathers that served our country. This push for celebration through war time was what finally urged Americans to continue the celebration and make Father’s Day a national institution.
On July 5th, 1908 a church in West Virginia sponsored the nation’s first event specifically in honor of fathers. However, this was a one-time event to honor the memory of 362 men that lost their lives in a coal mine nearby in December of 1907. The first statewide celebration of fathers happened in Washington state in 1910. A woman named Sonora Smart Dodd became frustrated with the lack of recognition fathers received after she attended a Mother’s Day church sermon in 1909. For a year she went to several local shops, churches, and government officials all around Spokane in order to raise funds for a celebration exclusively for fathers. Sonora was extremely passionate about having a day to celebrate fathers because her own father, William, was a Civil War veteran whose wife died giving birth to their sixth child. William Smart raised all six children on his own; Sonora never had a mother to celebrate.
By 1916 the holiday had spread and was finally honored outside of Washington. President Woodrow Wilson honored the day by rigging a flag in Spokane to unfurl when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. by using telegraph signals. By 1924, President Calvin Coolidge was urging state governments to observe Father’s Day, but no action was taken to make it an official national celebration. Coolidge felt the day should be celebrated nationally in order to establish closer relationships between fathers and their children. He also felt that it would remind fathers of their obligations. In 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson designated the third Sunday in June to be the official celebration date, but still no federal action was put into place until Richard Nixon took office. Finally, in 1972, Nixon made it official that dads everywhere in the USA would feel the love of their own national holiday.
This Father’s Day make sure dad feels appreciated since we worked so hard to make this an official day for him. Reach out and give him a call, buy him lunch, and give him some fishing gear. Thank him for all that he does because dads help the world go round and we sure are grateful for them.