The Founding of Fathers Day;
For centuries, the Eastern Orthodox Church has appointed the second Sunday before Nativity as the Sunday of the Forefathers to commemorate the ancestors of Christ according to the flesh, starting with Adam and emphasizing the Patriarch Abraham, to whom God said,
In thy seed shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed
— Genesis 12:3, 22:18
This feast can fall between December 11 and 17. This feast includes the ancestors of the Mary, mother of Jesus and various prophets.
A customary day for the celebration of fatherhood in Catholic Europe is known to date back to at least 1508. It is usually celebrated on March 19, as the feast day of Saint Joseph, who is referred to as the fatherly Nutritor Domini (“Nourisher of the Lord”) in Catholicism and “the putative father of Jesus” in southern European tradition. This celebration was brought to the Americas by the Spanish and Portuguese. The Catholic Church actively supported the custom of a celebration of fatherhood on St. Joseph’s Day from either the last years of the 14th century or from the early 15th century, apparently on the initiative of the Franciscans.
Whether to celebrate this day worldwide or not remained a debatable topic. In 1908, Grace Golden Clayton proposed the day to honor those men who had lost their lives in a mining accident in the US. Though it was not accepted then, in 1909 Sonora Smart Dodd, who along with her five brothers was raised by her father alone, after attending Mother’s Day in a church, convinced the Spokane Ministerial Association to celebrate Father’s Day worldwide.
In addition to Father’s Day, International Men’s Day is celebrated in many countries on November 19 in honor of both men and boys.
Closer to Home Fathers Day in the United States
The history of Father’s Day in the United State goes back over a century. It was first celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Washington State. However, it was over 6 decades later, 1972 before it became a nationwide holiday, 58 years after Mother’s Day became an official holiday.
The campaign to celebrate fathers in the nation did not have the same enthusiasm as that was with mothers.
On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event wholly in honors of fathers, a one-time event that included a sermon dedicated to the 362 men who had died in explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, the previous December.
Sonora Smart Dodd, a daughter of a widower in Spokane, Washington attempted to have an official holiday which would be equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents, was successful. She went to local churches, the YMCA, storekeepers, and officials to drum up support for the holiday. Then on June 19, 1910, Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day.
In 1972, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday.
The idea of fatherhood changed as well. It’s not viewed as the “feminine model” with flowers, but it has become more of a day that celebrates what Dad likes to do, whether it’s going fishing or flying or go-carting! It focuses on the larger roles that dads play with their children.
Partly, this change is due to the way society has evolved. There are no longer huge armies of workers toiling away in industrial factories, while women spend hours hand stitching and handwashing the family’s clothes. The modern role of the father has changed so that mothers and fathers are partners, each taking more responsibility within family life.
Fathers are now seen as significant influences on children; we know from many studies what happens when a father figure is lacking. In a sense, today Father’s Day helps to demonstrate the importance and value of fatherhood—and the gifts beyond material goods that a father bestows on his children and family.
Today, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June. And Economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 Billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.
So to the fathers everywhere may you have a happy and blessed Fathers Day!