It's Father's Day in StuyTown this weekend on Sunday June 19th! Read on for some interesting tidbits of information about the origin(s) of Father's Day.
- Fairmont, West Virginia
The holiday has at least two major reported origins in the United States. One occurred when Grace Golden Clayton was the first person to petition to have a Father's Day, also began the tradition. Then, a mine explosion near her hometown of Fairmont, West Virginia killed more than 360 men, and many of them were fathers. A thousand children were left fatherless, and she asked the pastor of her church to dedicate a date that would honor fathers on July 5, 1908. This was the Sunday nearest her late father's birthday. Her father had also been a Methodist preacher.
The first remembrance was held at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South, which today is known as the Central United Methodist Church. A historical marker, erected in 1985, declares Fairmont to be the "birthplace" of Father's Day.
- Spokane, Washington
Another story is that the observance actually originated in Spokane, Washington. Sonora Smart was listening to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909 when it came to her that her father should be honored similarly. Her father, William Jackson Smart, had lovingly raised her and her siblings after her mother's death. She chose to honor him by proposing the idea for a celebration to religious leaders. The first celebration was held in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910. Then, pastors throughout Spokane delivered sermons that honored fathers, and news of this spread around the country. Similar celebrations were subsequently held in Miami, Chicago, and Portland, Oregon.
Attempts to make Father's Day a holiday
A bill meant to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced into Congress in 1913; President Woodrow Wilson wanted to make it an official holiday, but Congress refused because it was feared the day would become commercialized.
Coolidge presidential recognition
President Calvin Coolidge supported establishing a national holiday in 1924, but did not issue a national proclamation.
National Father's Day Committee and Congressional recognition
A National Father's Day Committee was established in New York City, in 1926. Congress recognized the holiday in 1956. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation dedicating the third Sunday of June to the holiday, and finally, in 1972, President Richard Nixon made the day a permanent national holiday.
Many historians point out that the idea of a "father's celebration" is actually not a modern invention, but originated in Babylonia when a boy named Elmesu carved what was to be the first Father's Day card in clay – 4000 years ago. In this card, the boy wished his father a long life and good health.
The holiday celebrated worldwide
Father's Day is also observed around the world; in many countries, it is also established to be on the third Sunday in June, although many countries observe it on different days. For example, while Argentina celebrates on the third Sunday in June, Australia celebrates on the first Sunday in September.
Traditions of Father's Day
In the United States, this day is often celebrated by having a special meal at home or going out to eat, and giving Father a present or two – often homemade presents from the children.
Other countries celebrate this special day to honor fathers differently. In Nepal, for example, Father's Day is a solemn celebration that includes a ceremony that both honors recently deceased father's and shows appreciation for those still living.
In Australia, where this holiday is the first day of spring every September, fathers in Victoria get a special honor. There, 32 fathers are crowned "father of the year" each year, one from each of the 32 municipalities.