How Father’s Day Came To Be

Father's DayIn thinking about Father’s Day, I actually wanted to know the history behind it. Maybe some of you already know if not and you are wondering, the rest of this post is how Father’s Day got its start.

So here we go the history behind Father’s Day! Thank you History channel for posting this information.

Mother’s Day. Well many of you may have guessed that Mother’s Day came first. Ann Reeves Jarvis planted the seed in the1860s. She brought together a divided town in West Virginia and called it “Mother’s Work Days!” This event brought together the mother’s of both the Confederate and Union soldiers. However, Mother’s Day did not become a commercial holiday until 1908 when Jarvis’s daughter Anna who wanted to honor her own mother partnered with the John Wanamaker department store.

By 1909 45 states observed the day and in 1914 president Woodrow Wilson made the second Sunday in May to yep you guessed it, it’s now the day we celebrate and honor our mom’s!

So what about Father’s Day? Well as you may have guessed, the road to celebrate fathers was more challenging. On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly to honor fathers. It was a sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah.

Unfortunately at the time this was a one-time event. The next year, 1909 in Spokane, Washington a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd who with her five siblings, was raised by her dad after her mother passed, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for dads! She had that burning desire because her dad was the one who was raising her and her siblings. She went to many different local places to get people on board with her idea.

Guess what…….. she was successful! Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on July 19, 1910. Slowly the holiday spread, and in 1916 President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfold a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C.! Wow pretty crazy right.

1924 came along and President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day. Many men didn’t like the idea of this. Men didn’t want to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift giving, or thought it was just a commercial gimmick for retailers to sell more stuff.

Then in the 1920s and 30s, there was talk of having just one holiday called Parents’ Day. Every year on Mother’s Day, pro-Parents’ Day groups rallied in New York City with the message that both parents should be loved and respected together. Then came the depression and struggling retailers and advertisers worked hard at creating a “second Christmas” just for Father’s. When World War II began, advertisers began to argue that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American Troops and support the war. By the end of the war, Father’s Day was a national tradition.

1972 came and Richard Nixon was in the middle of his campaign to get re-elected. During this time he signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last!

This is such an amazing story of what a burning desire actually does in a person’s life. It took one person having the desire to honor their mother, and fighting for it to come to pass as a Federal holiday.

Then another women’s desire to honor her father. It isn’t like she just said I want to have a federal holiday now to honor fathers and poof it happened. She actually had to have a burning desire and make choices that at the time may have seemed very insignificant, but her efforts paid off. Mind you it took from 1909 when she had the desire and acted on it until 1916 for the President to show his support and then a whole 50 plus years later for it to become an official Federal holiday.

Eric & Tanya K.

Dedicated to changing lives one person at a time.