100 years of Celebrating Dad

June 18 2015

Father’s Day is quickly approaching and “Gift Guides for Dad” are being thrown from every direction. This prompted me to do a little research on the day Hallmark coins as the fifth-largest-card-sending holiday in the world. I had so many questions on the origin of Father’s Day and how it was celebrated in the days Smart Phones weren’t taking over the world... It truly is an amazing thing to learn so much about a day that is so commonly grouped with “Giving the Perfect Gift”.

My research began with what several websites termed ‘Amazing Father’s Day Facts’. Apparently the Rose is the official flower for the day and the third most popular gift, because what man doesn’t love a bouquet of roses…Greeting cards are the top gift closely followed by neckties, and one-third of cards sold are funny in nature. This little game of trivia is not what I expected to find when researching a day that is about so much more. It took me longer than expected to discover a more in depth look at Father’s Day and its origin. I must say, I was not disappointed.

Father’s Day has been celebrated long before it became an official holiday in the early 1970s. Originating in America, the first unofficial celebration was held in Spokane, Washington on June 19th, 1910. At the turn of the century, Mother's Day observances were growing across the United States. The federal government hadn’t yet recognized the holiday, but many states had adopted the third Sunday in May as a special occasion to honor mothers. It was during a Mother's Day church service on June 20, 1909, that Sonora Smart Dodd was struck with the idea of creating a special holiday to honor fathers as well.

Sonora lost her mother at the age of 16 and her father did a wonderful job of raising 6 children on his own. Sonora believed that her father deserved a special day of honor just like that given to mothers. She approached the Spokane YMCA and Ministerial Alliance in 1909 in hopes that her father’s birthday, June 5th, could become a celebration day for Fathers everywhere. The Ministerial alliance chose June 19th to allow more preparation time.

On June 19th, 1910 the first Father’s Day was observed in the state of Washington. It didn’t take long for the idea of celebrating fatherhood to spread across the United States, and more states began to adopt the holiday. Fourteen years after its first celebration, President Calvin Coolidge recognized Father’s Day as the third Sunday in June and publicly voiced his support for national celebration. Just two years later, the National Father’s Day Committee met for the first time in New York City. In 1956, Congress officially recognized the day with the passage of a joint resolution. Ten years later, President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation calling for the third Sunday in June to be recognized as Father’s Day. It was not until 1972 that Richard Nixon would permanently establish the observance of the holiday in the United States.

Sonora Smart Dodd died in 1978 at the age of 96. She lived long enough to see her idea become a nationally-recognized holiday. 

I am going to come to a close with the most important ‘Father’s Day Fact’… It all began with a Daughter who loved her father so much that she felt he deserved a day of recognition. This is something we must never forget. Father’s Day is not about finding the perfect grill tools for dad, or making sure we take him somewhere fancy. Father’s Day is about honoring the man that is always there to catch you when you fall and encourages you to believe in yourself as much as he believes in you. The best gift you could give him is your time, attention, and love.

I am thankful to have a day to celebrate my first hero.

(The man who let me eat ice cream for breakfast…)

Here is to another 100 years of celebrating Dads everywhere!