Father’s Day is coming up, so we look into the history of Father’s Day. Sadly, retailers and marketers, in an effort to make a quick buck, have bastardized the original meaning of Father’s Day. A holiday that was supposed to honor dad and enumerate his special qualities, now is used to sell chili pepper ties and shop vacs. Hopefully by understanding why the concept of Father’s Day was created, we can better celebrate and honor the fathers who raised us into men.
About 4,000 years ago a young boy named Elmusu wished his Babylonian father good health and a long life by carving a Father’s Day message on a card made out of clay. No one knows what happened to Elmesu or his father, but the tradition of having a special day honoring fathers has continued through the years in countries across the world.
The Countries, where the Catholic Church were of significant influence on the culture of the society, Father’s Day is celebrated on St. Joseph’s Day (March 19). However, a more secular celebration which is not associated with any religion is followed in recent times to highlight the increased diversity among people from all over the globe coexisting together in one place.
The History of Father’s Day in the United States
There are two stories of when the first Father’s Day was celebrated. According to some accounts, the first Father’s Day was celebrated in Washington state on June 19, 1910. A woman by the name of Sonora Smart Dodd came up with the idea of honoring and celebrating her father while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon at church in 1909. She felt as though mothers were getting all the acclaim while fathers were equally deserving of a day of praise (She would probably be displeased that Mother’s Day still gets the lion’s share of attention).
Sonora’s dad was quite a man. William Smart, a veteran of the Civil War, was left a widower when his wife died while giving birth to their sixth child. He went on to raise the six children by himself on their small farm in Washington. To show her appreciation for all the hard work and love William gave to her and her siblings, Sonora thought there should be a day to pay homage to him and other dads like him. She initially suggested June 5th, the anniversary of her father’s death to be the designated day to celebrate Father’s Day, but due to some bad planning, the celebration in Spokane, Washington was deferred to the third Sunday in June.
The other story of the first Father’s Day in America happened all the way on the other side of the country in Fairmont, West Virginia on July 5, 1908. Grace Golden Clayton suggested to the minister of the local Methodist church that they hold services to celebrate fathers after a deadly mine explosion killed 361 men.
While Father’s Day was celebrated locally in several communities across the country, unofficial support to make the celebration a national holiday began almost immediately. William Jennings Bryant was one of its staunchest proponents. In 1924, President Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge recommended that Father’s Day become a national holiday. But no official action was taken.
In 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson, through an executive order, designated the third Sunday in June as the official day to celebrate Father’s Day. However, it wasn’t until 1972, during the Nixon administration, that Father’s Day was officially recognized as a national holiday.
Father’s Day Around The World
Other countries also picked up on the idea of Father’s Day. While many followed suit by celebrating it on the third Sunday in June, some decided to honor dad on different dates. So, to make sure you know when to pay your respects to dear old dad wherever you may be, here’s a list of the dates Father’s Day is celebrated across the world.
- March 14- Iran
- March 19- Bolivia, Honduras, Italy, Lichtenstein, Portugal, Spain
- May 8- South Korea
- First Sunday in June- Lithuania
- Second Sunday in June- Austria, Ecuador, Belgium
- Third Sunday in June- Antigua, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Guyana, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Saint Vincent, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Trinidad, Turkey, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Zimbabwe
- June 17- El Salvador, Guatemala
- June 23- Nicaragua, Poland, Uganda
- Second Sunday in July- Uruguay
- Last Sunday in July- Dominican Republic
- Second Sunday in August- Brazil
- August 8- Taiwan, China
- August 24- Argentina
- First Sunday in September- Australia, New Zealand
- New Moon of September- Nepal
- First Sunday in October- Luxembourg
- Second Sunday in November- Estonia, Finland, Norway, Sweden
- December 5- Thailand