Daddy, Dad, Papa, Pere, Pops-whatever you decide to call him, he deserves to be celebrated. With Father’s Day quickly approaching, the razors and neckties wrapped and funny cards bought, you may be wondering what this day is all about. Who decided we needed a day to celebrate Dads? Was it all contrived by the necktie and underwear companies to turn up profits? Keep reading to learn 5 things you may not have known about the history of Father’s Day – and the controversy that surrounded it.
The History Of Father’s Day
Mother’s Day began begin celebrated before Father’s Day as a way to bring about peace in the years following the Civil War in celebrations called “Mother’s Work Days”, which brought together mothers of both confederate and union soldiers in a still-divided West Virginia town.
In 1908, it was observed with a celebration in one town, and the very next year, it was celebrated in 45 states. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared that the second Sunday in May would be observed as a national holiday to celebrate the mothers of America. The campaign for Father’s Day, however, did not accelerate as quickly.
1Father’s Day Was An Unpopular Response To Mother’s Day
In 1908, a West Virginia church held a service to remember 362 men who had died in coal mine explosions. The following year, a woman from Spokane, Washington traveled door to door, visiting churches and the local YMCA, to try and get the ball rolling on a celebration for Father’s Day. She was successful, and in June of 1910, Washington State celebrated its first official Father’s Day.
Why would Mother’s Day take off like a rocket, but interest for Father’s Day was slow to catch on? One florist said it was because “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.” Perhaps the marketing for Father’s Day and Mother’s Day had to be approached differently, but regardless, by June of 1916, President Woodrow Wilson was involved in Spokane’s Father’s Day celebrations, and by 1924, President Calvin Coolidge encouraged each state to participate in Father’s Day celebrations.
2It was not until 1972 that Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a national holiday.
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3Father’s Day is observed on the third Sunday in June each year in the United States. In other countries, especially countries that are predominantly Catholic, fathers are celebrated in March on St. Joseph’s Day (St. Joseph being the earthly father of Jesus Christ).
Upon its initiation, Father’s Day was either loved, or scoffed at. After all, if the men were the primary bread-winner for the household, gifts of flowers would imply that the fathers of the house were not masculine. Or, it would be a ruse for local stores to earn a profit in the name of fatherly celebration, but only at a cost to the father. Why should the father have to pay to celebrate himself? Many groups, in fact, tried to scrap both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in favor of a single holiday, Parent’s Day. However, by the time the Great Depression struck, retailers were struggling to stay afloat.
4Retailers decided to use Father’s Day to market and advertise neckties, soaps, and shaving materials to men.
During the Great Depression, retailers were doing all they could to market to men, hoping they would remain in business or at least turn a profit. It worked well enough, and the history of Father’s Day proves that. By the time the United States became involved in World-War II, retailers used Father’s Day as a day to acknowledge the sacrifice of the men who were fighting, and advertisements for Father’s Day became even more popular-and effective.
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5In 2018, Americans spent a whopping of $15.3 Billion to celebrate Father’s Day, coming in as a distant second to Mother’s Day, where spending reached an astonishing $28 Billion.
The history of Father’s Day shows that this was a holiday to give thanks to the Dads in our lives that struggled to gain momentum. Thankfully, now it is advertised as a day to treat Dad to something special, with either a fancy dinner or cook out, and gifts – either homemade or store bought.
The history of Father’s Day began directly after the implementation of Mother’s Day simply because people recognized the need for the role of fathers to be acknowledged and celebrated. Sixteen percent of single parent households consist of single fathers, and men are doing their fair share when it comes to equal work both inside and outside the home.
Every person who dedicates their lives to raising children deserves recognition and gratitude, so this Father’s Day, make sure you let the Dads in your life know that their work has not gone unnoticed, and that he is loved, appreciated, and celebrated.
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