Americans celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of every June. This holiday celebrates fathers and fatherhood in general, including father figures such as guardians and grandfathers. The occasion is marked by giving a gift to one’s father or spending time with him. It is a time set aside to value a father’s role in one’s life and to reflect upon paternal bonding.
Fathers are usually given gifts in the realm of home improvement, electronics, and outdoor tools. There are no official ways to celebrate Father’s Day, but many children also celebrate with a phone call, meal out, or a family gathering honoring all fathers within an extended family. This day is a busy one for restaurants. In the U.S., some wear a red rose to honor their father, but a white rose if he has passed away.
Some churches hold Father’s Day services or integrate the theme of fatherhood into the Sunday service. One of the first religious Father’s Day services was held in 1908 in Fairmont, West Virginia. Grace Golden Clayton, a member of the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, had recently lost her father in a mining accident, which killed 250 fathers total, resulting in about 1000 children without fathers. Clayton made a suggestion to hold a service in remembrance of these fathers. Some churches’ Father’s Day service revolves around the idea of God as a father.
This holiday is the complement of Mother’s Day, which takes place in May. Father’s Day was established in early 20th century America to correspond with this celebration. The holiday was considered casually by many people, but the main innovator was Sonora Dodd. Dodd held the first significant Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington in 1910, held at the Spokane YMCA center. Dodd’s own father fought in the Civil War and then raised six children on his own in Spokane. When Dodd listened to a Mother’s Day sermon at her church, she considered the absence of her own mother, who had died in childbirth delivering her sixth child, and her Father’s valiant efforts of raising the children on his own, believing there deserved to be a holiday honoring fathers.
Several more celebrations were held in Spokane, but the tradition stopped when Dodd left for school in Chicago. When she returned, she took up holiday promotion, but this time nationally. Her strategic efforts included working with business groups that would profit from such a holiday, such as men’s clothing companies and tobacco companies. Many trades were seeing profits from Mother’s Day. However, commercial promotion of the holiday led to many believing it was shallow, as even Dodd’s Father’s Day Council was founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers.
President Woodrow Wilson wished to make the holiday official, speaking at the 1916 celebration in Spokane, but its commercial nature caused Congress to not pass the bill. President Cooling also made an attempt. It was not until Margaret Chase Smith, a senator from Main, stated that it was unfair to honor mothers and not fathers in 1957. President Johnson finally issued a proclamation in 1966 and Nixon made the holiday official in 1972.
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