Saturday, June 13, 2015

The History Of Father's Day


Sunday, June 21, 2015, is Father's Day.

Mother's Day was, indeed, the inspiration for Father's Day, but it was a long time before Father's Day became an official reality.  The governor of the state of Washington proclaimed the nation's first Father's Day on July 19, 1910.  It was not until 1972, 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother's Day an official holiday in 1914, that President Richard Nixon gave Father's Day its official federal holiday status.

The campaign to celebrate Father's Day did not meet with the same type of enthusiasm as Mother's Day.  One florist explained it as fathers not having the same sentimental appeal as mothers.  In 1909 a Spokane, Washington, woman who was one of six children raised by a widower was successful in establishing a day for male parents like Mothers enjoyed.  The state of Washington celebrated the nation's first statewide Father's Day on July 19, 1910.

The idea slowly spread.  In 1916 Woodrow Wilson honored the day.  President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father's Day, however many men continued to scoff at the idea claiming it was a sentimental attempt to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving and also claiming it was only a commercial gimmick to sell more products often paid for by the father himself.

In the 1920s and 1930s there was a movement to do away with both Mother's Day and Father's Day and create a Parent's Day in their place, their idea being that both parents should be loved and respected together.  The gathering enthusiasm for this idea was basically stamped out during the depression.  Struggling retailers and advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Father's Day a gift giving holiday for men.  With the onset of World War II advertisers set forth the argument that celebrating Father's Day was a way to honor American troops.  By the end of the war, Father's Day was a national institution but not yet an official holiday.

In 1972 Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father's Day a federal holiday.  It's estimated that there are more than 70 million fathers in the United States and that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father's Day gifts.

2 comments:

JoAnne Myers said...

As always a very interesting and informative article. Thank you Shawna.

Shawna Delacorte said...

JoAnne: I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Thanks for your comment.