Celebrate Father’s Day 2020! Did you know that this holiday traces its roots to the early 1900s? Enjoy a short Father’s Day history lesson.
WHEN IS FATHER’S DAY?
Father’s Day is always celebrated on the third Sunday in June is Father’s Day in India. In 2020, Father’s Day falls on Sunday, June 21.
FATHER’S DAY HISTORY
Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day has a history that goes well beyond greeting cards.
The first known Father’s Day service occurred at the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South in Fairmont, West Virginia, on July 5, 1908, thanks to the efforts of Grace Golden Clayton. Mrs. Clayton had asked her pastor, Dr. R. Thomas Webb, if a Sunday service could be held to honor fathers.
While missing her own dad, who had died in 1896, Mrs. Clayton especially wanted to have a service in remembrance of the over 200 fathers who had died in the Monongah mining explosion that had occurred a few miles south of Fairmont on December 6 of the previous year. (It was the worst mining disaster in U.S. history, killing more than 360 men and boys, and leaving about 1,000 children fatherless.)
Although the Fairmont service was the first known to honor fathers, it did not turn into an annual event, nor was the idea promoted (a large July 4 celebration in Fairmont and a tragic young death from typhoid fever having taken over the news at the time).
Father’s Day Gains Momentum
Several other people across the nation had similar ideas throughout the years, but Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd is credited for being the one to popularize it, starting events that led to Father’s Day becoming a U.S. national holiday.
Her story began as she sat listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. Mrs. Dodd thought that it might be nice to honor fathers as well. Her father, William Smart, had raised his SIX children alone on his farm in Washington after his wife died giving birth to their sixth child.
Mrs. Dodd proposed to the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA that they celebrate a “fathers day.” She chose the 5th of June because it was her father’s birthday.
The idea received strong support, but the good ministers of Spokane asked that the day be changed to give them extra time to prepare sermons on the unexplored subject of fathers.
The first Father’s Day in Spokane, Washington, was observed on June 19, 1910 (the third Sunday in June), and became an annual event there. Soon, other towns had their own celebrations.
From Local Celebration to National Holiday
In spite of widespread support, Father’s Day did not become a permanent national holiday for many years. The first bill was introduced in Congress in 1913, but in spite of encouragement by President Woodrow Wilson, it did not pass. In 1966, Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June to honor fathers.
Finally, in 1972, when President Richard Nixon was president, Father’s Day was signed a law declaring that it be celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June. It has been an official, permanent national holiday ever since.
FATHER’S DAY QUOTES
“He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
Clarence Budington Kelland, American writer (1881-1964), about his father
“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
–Umberto Eco, Italian novelist (1932-2016)
“My father will leave me nothing to do.”
–A young Alexander the Great, future king of Macedonia (356-323 B.C.)
“A father is a treasure; a brother, a comfort; a friend is both.”
–Benjamin Franklin, American statesman (1706-1790)
“His heritage to his children wasn’t words or possessions, but an unspoken treasure, the treasure of his example as a man and a father.”
–Will Rogers, Jr. (1879–1935)
“A father is someone you look up to no matter how tall you grow.”
Do you have any great quotes about fathers? Or, some favourite memories of growing up with dad? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!