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Article - The History of Father's Day
by Wen Zientek-Sico

Learn all about the fascinating history of Father's Day with this informative article. We share some little known facts and neat tidbits about this very special holiday.


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The History of Father's Day

It is surprising when you look at the history of Mother's Day and Father's Day to realize just how long it took for us to come to appreciate our Dads! According to most reports, it took one special woman, Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Washington, to really start the push for a special day to celebrate and thank fathers.

Mother's have had an organized special day of honor since the 1600's and an organized Mother's Day was being celebrated in the United States quite a bit before Father's Day was. It was actually during a Mother's Day celebration that Mrs. Dodd came up with the idea of creating a special day just for fathers.

Mrs. Dodd, who was motherless, and had been raised by her widower father, William Smart, realized how much she wanted to honor her own father who had raised her and her five siblings in 1909. He was a civil war veteran and farmer who had forfeited much to raise the family all by himself. She decided that she wanted to show her love and affection for him and her appreciation for his sacrifices by creating a special day honoring him and all fathers on his birthday, June 5th.

Sonora Dodd approached the Spokane governing council to get an official holiday launched for June 5, 1910, which was the first Sunday of the month. In a not atypical situation, the local government did not approve the special holiday fast enough to use William Smart's birthday, but they did approve the holiday, deciding instead on the third Sunday of June. The holiday was quickly adopted across the country, with many other women advocating a special day for fathers and popularizing the holiday.

At that time the celebration was not the festive (and usually funny) occasion that it is today. Typically there was a special service in church during which fathers were honored. In general, the entire day was a solemn and respectful occasion. Women typically wore flowers to honor their fathers, and Sonora Dodd supposedly created another tradition by declaring that women should wear red roses to honor living fathers and white roses to honor those that were no longer with them. Later on white lilacs were used as traditional blooms to celebrate Father's Day, and both white lilacs and roses are typically used today.

The first real attempts by a president to organize a national Father's Day were made by Calvin Coolidge in 1924. He actively supported the idea of a Father's Day, but never made it an official holiday. It wasn't until 1966 when Lyndon Johnson issued a presidential proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as the official Father's Day.

Father's Day has now become a big business holiday. The sales of greeting cards, tools, T-shirts, baseball caps, and especially ties are the earmarks of the holiday. Many families celebrate with picnics, barbecues, and other functions and some communities organize special ballgames, parades, or other activities. Father's Day has actually really expanded to celebrate not just fathers, but all of the important men in our lives. It is the perfect occasion to show your gratitude and love to all men who influence your life, whether they be neighbors, grandfathers, mentors, husbands, brothers, uncles, stepfathers, friends, and even in some cases children.

Take the time on this special day to let your special guy know how much you care and how much you appreciate everything that he does for you and your family every day.




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