How Did Father’s Day Start?

There are lots of reasons to celebrate our mothers on “Mother’s Day” each year in May.  While Mother’s Day is a sentimental favorite, celebrating “Father’s Day” hasn’t enjoyed the same support.

I can remember as a kid saying, “We have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, why isn’t there a Children’s Day?”  Mom’s response – “Every day is Children’s Day…”

Mother’s Day dates back to the post-Civil War years, honoring working mothers of soldiers from both sides during the war, and hoping to bring both sides together through their mothers.  It did not become a commercial holiday until 1908, though.

senora doddWith the recognition of Mother’s Day, a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd tried to drum up support for Father’s Day in her home town of Spokane, Washington.  One of six children raised by her single father, she was able to put on a celebration at the Spokane YMCA in 1909.  The State of Washington declared the first Father’s Day on July 19, 1910, and the holiday slowly spread nationally.  But in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge expressed disdain for the holiday, saying that it was just a commercial excuse to sell flowers and gifts to give to Father, often paid for by the father himself.

It was not until 1972 that President Nixon signed the proclamation making Father’s Day a national holiday.  And Calvin Coolidge was right – Americans spend an estimated one billion dollars on Father’s Day gifts each year.

For me, Father’s Day has been a remembrance of my Dad.  A lifelong car guy, our time together was cut short by cancer just after he retired.  Many times I think of how much he would have loved working with me on restorations, race cars and other mechanical projects.  I especially miss him in the summer months – Father’s Day, his birthday, and the anniversary of his death, each about a month apart.  I won’t bore you with details about him – instead, remember the details about your own father.

So the advice is the same for everyone – if you Dad is still with you, enjoy the time with him.  If not, take a moment to remember him – remember the good times.

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