Dads are cool. Dads are hip and happening. Dads rule,
All those superlatives may be a little overkill but they get the point across: fathers have secured their place in not only the annals of history but in the hearts of their offspring across the centuries.
To that end, we in America celebrate fathers with their own day – Father’s Day. The third Sunday in June has been the regular observance here since 1910, the first Father’s Day in this country.
That holiday was suggested by Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, who had been raised with her five siblings by a single father (there’s no exact telling of why he was single). After hearing a pastor’s 1909 sermon on Mother’s Day (only a year old as a holiday itself), Dodd suggested fathers deserve the same recognition. (An earlier attempt at Father’s Day came in July 1908, led by Grace Golden Clayton, of West Virginia, who along with an entire town still mourned the loss of 361 men in a mining explosion the previous December. Too many other activities doomed that endeavor.)
Father’s Day enjoyed quite the hullabaloo for several years before sliding into a vague obscurity before Dodd returned to Washington State and cranked it back up to popularity, even with attacks on the day, along with Mother’s Day, by groups which condemned both days as nothing more than rank commercialism designed only for sales purposes.
Up until 1916, Father’s Day was nothing more than an organized, grassroots celebration in metropolitan areas and larger town which picked up steam after President Woodrow Wilson threw his support behind it, much as he had in 1914 with the establishment of the second Sunday in May for Mother’s Day. It took, however, until 1972 for it to become a national law with the signature of President Richard Nixon. The years in between saw the issue come up to federal review multiple times, only for it be dismissed for one political reason or another.
All of this is not to say Father’s Day began in America. A form of celebration for fatherhood and all it entails can be traced all the way back to 1508 Catholic Europe. Celebrated usually in March as part of the Feast of St. Joseph, recognized as the earth-bound father of Jesus Christ. It remained as such for centuries, only finding its way to North American with the expansion of European Catholics. Again, it was not an official holiday but more of an observance both religious and civic in nature.
It is also not marked in its traditional June American date in all countries around the world. Russia and Belarus get the ball started in February each year, while most festivities are wrapped up in December in Thailand. Just does rank as the top month for Father’s Day observances, and our third Sunday of the month is crowded by 90 other countries partying for papa.
Father’s Day may still not receive the same attention or dedication as Mother’s Day, but one thing is certain: very few backyard grills would be complete without a set of nifty grilling tools, no tool box would be well stocked without a set of handy screwdrivers, and no wardrobe would be as stylish without the introduction of a neon dress tie or a shirt one or two sizes too big or too small.
Dads may have had to wait a few years for their official holiday.
Most would say it’s still worth the wait.