by Katie Arvia
- Like its motherly counterpart, Father’s Day has been celebrated in the United States since the early 1900s. However, celebrating dads has been a custom in European countries since the Middle Ages. The feast day of Saint Joseph, held on March 19, is celebrated by members of the Catholic church.
- In America, Father’s Day wasn’t met with as much enthusiasm and support as its female counterpart. On July 5, 1908, a church in West Virginia held a one-time sermon commemorating fathers and honoring the men who died in a coal mine explosion. This was the nation’s first event specifically honoring fathers.
- Two years after this initial commemoration, Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, pushed to establish an official celebration of male parents. Sonora was one of six children raised by a widower. She reached out to local churches, shopkeepers, the YMCA, and government officials for support; in 1910, her efforts were successful as Washington celebrated the country’s first statewide Father’s Days on June 19.
- Despite Washington State’s initial success, other attempts at celebrating dads across the country did not go as smoothly. Jane Addams proposed a Father’s Day celebration in Chicago in 1911, but her idea was rejected.
- Over time, the holiday’s popularity grew. Presidents like Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge showed their support for the holiday; Coolidge even encouraged other states to celebrate Father’s Day.
- In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson made a presidential proclamation and designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. It wasn’t until 1972 that Father’s Day became a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law.
- Today, popular gift ideas are tools, clothing, and gift cards. However, more and more children are spending money on experiences for dad rather than material objects. Travel, concert tickets, and sporting events are quickly gaining popularity, especially among millennial children.
- There are about 214,000 stay-at-home dads and about 1.8 million single fathers in America. 87 million cards are sent for Father’s Day, making it the fourth largest holiday for greeting cards.