A Brief History of Father’s Day

While Father’s Day was last weekend, this article still seems appropriate. Father’s Day is still one of the U.S.’s summer holidays. Barbecues and outdoor activities are popular ways to celebrate. I even saw some fireworks Sunday night. Father’s Day started as St. Joseph’s Day in Europe in the Middle Ages and is celebrated on March 18th.The official United States celebration of Father’s Day came about as a woman named Grace Golden Clayton of Fairmont, West Virginia was mourning the loss of her father and other local men in the Monongah Mining Disaster of December 1907. On July 8, 1908 she was able to convince the members of her church, which is now the Central United Methodist, to hold a Father’s Day service. The service was a one time affair and was not promoted or continued. Over the next several years, individual Father’s Day celebrations were held in different cities across the U.S., but it was in 1915 that Henry Meek, a member of the Lions Club International, started through the club’s auspices to promote an official national Father’s Day to compliment the Mother’s Day holiday. He chose the third Sunday in June because that year it coincided with  his father’s birthday.
In Spokane, Washington Sonora Smart Dodd, whose father was Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, got some local clergyman to proclaim June 19th, 1910 as Father’s Day and devote their sermons to honoring fatherhood. This tradition in Spokane continued for several years but faded by 1915. In the 1930s, Dodd, with the support of the Lions Club, started promoting the event on a national level. She got tremendous support from the retail business sector, as haberdashers started advertising the day to sell their merchandise. The necktie industry in particular pushed  the necktie as the perfect gift for dad on his day. The cigar and tobacco industry, as well as beer and liquor businesses, followed suit. Because of this many say the holiday is just a sham by merchants to create a second Christmas in the summer. So it was just an unofficial holiday observance for four decades.
It was not until 1967 that President Lyndon Johnson made a presidential proclamation to the effect that the third Sunday in June was recognized as Father’s Day. In 1972 President Richard Nixon made Fathers Day an official national holiday and signed a law to that effect. It’s been an official part of summer ever since. So a belated Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads.