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The History of Father’s Day

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Father’s Day is a celebration of fathers, the influence of father’s on society, and the paternal bonds that are shared. But how did Father’s Day get started?

Father’s Day celebrations have dated back to at least the Middle Ages but was not widely celebrated in the United States until the 20th century. There are two accounts of just how the first Father’s Day celebration occurred. The first account suggested that Grace Golden Clayton, a member of a small Methodist Church in West Virginia, pleaded with her minister to honor father’s on their Sunday service on July 5, 1908 after a deadly mine explosion killed 361 men. However, some reports say that Sonara Smart Dodd of Washington state, brought up the idea of celebrating father’s after listening to a sermon that only gave praise to mothers. Dodd’s father, a Civil War vet, took care of Dodd and her 5 siblings after the death of her mother. It’s rumored that Dodd wanted a day to pay homage to him and other father’s like him and suggested June 5, the day of her father’s death, as a celebration day. However, due to bad planning, the celebration in Washington occurred in Spokane on June 19, 1910, the third Sunday of the month.

The original date may be questionable, but one thing remains certain–the first national Father’s Day celebration did not occur until 1972 when President Richard Nixon declared it a holiday, a whooping 58 years after Mother’s Day was made official by President Woodrow Wilson.

And while we, in the US celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June, many other countries (and some Roman Catholics) celebrate on March 19, also known as St. Joseph’s Day in honor of Jesus’ father and all other fathers.

So how exactly is Father’s Day celebrated in the United States and also around the world?
In Thailand, dad’s are presented with a Canna flower-which is considered a masculine flower.
In Mexico, many dads get physical with a city-wide 21k race in Mexico City called the Carrera Dia del Padre.
Families in Brazil gather together for an all-you-can-eat BBQ for dads.
Japanese children present their dads with homemade gifts ranging from origami, glassware, or sweets, followed by a traditional seafood meal.
In Germany, German men take a load off by indulging in fine beers and liquors and gathering together to celebrate and have fun. It is common to attend an all male hike and celebrate with alcohol.

How do you celebrate dads where you’re from? Tell us how in the comments below!

9 Comments

  1. Avatar for trylife

    Leigh

    In my family, we always celebrate by us kids making my dad breakfast. We then open gifts. His favorites are clothes, tools, and sweets. We let him lounge around all day, spend some time outside if it’s nice, and then end the day by cooking his favorite dinner–steak! It’s always great celebrating as a family!

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    Katie

    Our celebration is to spend the day with Dad and have him grill steaks that only the fathers in the family participate in eating. Gifts are given and special cards are read. It’s a great time to celebrate our wonderful father. I’m so glad it is an official holiday. Dads deserve it!

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    Caryn

    My father passed away years ago. When he was alive, we kids would all gather at Mom & Dad’s for dinner, gifts & to just spend time with him. As our own kids grew up, we would put together some sort of surprise adventure for my husband (their Dad), planning something he would enjoy, making whatever he wanted for dinner and, most often, gifts with a theme that matched the adventure. Now that they are grown, they come to our house (usually for a cookout) and we spend several hours together, just enjoying some family time.

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    Lorraine

    As many little girls do I looked to my father for love and encouragement. I saw him as able to do everything for our family-and he most certainly did. Also he served his country well.He lives forever in my mind as a champion and a hero. What memories are our fathers leaving today as an imprint on their children? Memories have such an impact even years later. Fathers, show love and speak love to your children……they surely need it.

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    Eddie

    We always celebrate Father’s Day by doing whatever my dad wants! Happy Father’s Day to all of the great dads out there!

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    Nancy Giuliotti

    When younger, my sister and I would buy a gift for our father and my mother would make a special meal.

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    vg

    Honoring our fathers and showing appreciation is an encouragement for them. A father is the leader of the family. He needs daily prayer

  8. Avatar for trylife

    Jerry Marelli

    In today’s society when we hear of “absentee fathers” it’s so important to celebrate those great men who step up to the plate and love and support their children with their time. Our daughter always wrote a special hand-written note to her dad which he cherished and saved everyone of them. He would often cry as he read her words. VM

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    phyllis

    fathers day in our family is celebrated with the familly getting together for a meal, gifts and games.

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