2018-06-13 / Community

History of Father’s Day

Meandering Melodies
by Susan Holsinger

The calendar says Sunday is Father’s Day. A couple years ago I wrote a column about how Mother’s Day got started. As I prepared to write the column this week it occurred to me that I didn’t know much about how Father’s Day got started. That prompted some research.

Father’s Day has been celebrated since before the 15th century in Europe on March 19 on the feast day of St. Joseph by the Catholic Church. The Coptic Church has been observing it on July 20 and dates back as early as the 5th century. Father’s Day was not celebrated in the United States until the 20th century.

After Anna Jarvis successfully promoted Mother’s Day in Grafton, W. Va., the first observance of Father’s Day was July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, W. Va., in a Methodist Church. Grace Golden Clayton was mourning the death of her father who had been killed in December 1907 in a mining disaster at Monongah along with 360 men, of which 250 were fathers. These men left a thousand fatherless children. Clayton suggested to her pastor to honor these fathers.


Holsinger Holsinger This event was not promoted outside of the town itself for several reasons. The local church and council were overwhelmed by other events that were happening and so the event was not promoted or celebrated again for many years.

Jane Addams proposed a citywide Father’s Day celebration in Chicago in 1911 but was turned down. In 1912 there was a Father’s Day celebration in Vancouver, Wash., suggested by Methodist minister J. J. Berringer. They mistakenly believed they were the first to celebrate such a day. Harry C. Meek, a member of the Lions Club International, claimed he had been the first to come up with the idea in 1915. Meek stated the third Sunday in June was chosen because it was his birthday. The Lions Club did name him the “Originator of Father’s Day.” Meek made many efforts to promote it and make it an official holiday.

In June 1910 a Father’s Day celebration was held at the YMCA in Spokane, Wash., by Sonora Smart Dodd. Sonora was a Presbyterian who had heard about Anna Jarvis and how she had started Mother’s Day. She told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday to honor them. It was celebrated on the third Sunday of June until 1920 when it faded into obscurity when Sonora moved to Chicago.

Sonora Smart Dodd moved back to Spokane in the 1930s and started promoting it again. But Americans resisted the holiday for a couple decades because it seemed to be a ploy for merchants to sell their wares and replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day.

A bill was introduced to Congress in 1913 to recognize Father’s Day. It was denied. Again in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson attempted to make it an officially recognized holiday. Again Congress resisted, fearing commercialization. President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 the day be observed throughout the nation, although he did not issue a national proclamation. In 1957 Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a Father’s Day proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for the past 40 years. The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers on the third Sunday in June was made by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. President Richard Nixon signed it into law six years later in 1972.

As I read the history around this I was surprised it took so long to establish a nationally recognized day to honor fathers. I’m not sure why they were so alarmed about the commercialization when there were other holidays being established that were doing the same thing!

Anyway… you never know what you might find hiding out on the pages of history books!

The Father of all living is called Adam. The Father of Jesus is called God.

What is your father’s name? Is he still living? Do you have a relationship with him? It has been stated that there are times a girl (and boy) needs their daddy. Are you a daddy your daughter and son can honor? God bless you and teach you. Remember, it’s not too late to change. Happy Father’s Day! Affirmation for today

Dear Lord, thank you for being my Father. I learned to know You because of the good example of my daddy!

FYI: Meandering Melodies Books 1, 2, 3, & 4 are available at Grandma’s Cupboard in Rossville and The Homestead in Lafayette and Remington. Weekly articles are on Meandering Melodies Facebook page, too. Call Susan to order at (765) 427-6296. Email Susan at susan.holsinger@gmail.com or mail to: 7690 W. 700 S. Rossville, IN 46065.

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