Every year on the third Sunday in June, Father’s Day is celebrated in the United States, honoring fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, step-fathers, foster-fathers, godfathers, fathers-in-law, even father figures–in short, everyone’s dad–for an entire day.
Unlike German Father’s Day, which is traditionally celebrated in rather roust-about, beer-soaked ways on Ascension Thursday, 40 days after Easter, Americans have their Fathers’ Day on the third Sunday in June.
The American Father’s Day has an interesting history, springing forth from the same general idea as Mother’s Day. In fact, it also began in the early 20th century in the U.S. to celebrate fatherhood and to complement Mother’s Day.
Father’s Day was first celebrated in Spokane, Wash., initiated by Sonora Smart Dodd, who had heard about Mother’s Day in 1909 and felt that fathers should have a similar holiday, especially since her father had raised six children as a single parent.
Local clergymen agreed to the idea and the first Father’s Day was celebrated June 19, 1910. Young men from the Spokane YMCA wore roses to church – a red rose honoring a living father and a white rose honoring a deceased one.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson came to Spokane to speak during Father’s Day services. However, Congress, fearing commercialization, resisted making it a national holiday.
Five decades passed with several more such efforts to make it a holiday that came to naught. The American holiday for fathers did not become official until 1966, when President Lyndon Johnson declared that the third Sunday in June henceforth would always be Father’s Day. In 1972, President Richard Nixon made this proclamation permanent.
On June 17, 2018, Father’s Day will once again be the occasion to bring or send thoughtful gifts, transmit a little rhyme or some sincere prose, maybe even a bouquet of flowers, and to think fondly of our fathers.
For a very personal touch, surprise your dad with a nice breakfast, take him to lunch or have a barbecue. Spending quality time with Dad during one of his favorite activities is probably the best gift you can give.