Father’s Day doesn’t have a long tradition, but it is not quite as cynically commerical as some people imagine.
It began at the turn of the 20th century in the United States, shortly after a special day for mothers became established in 1905. A few years later Sonora Louise Smart decided that fathers should also be honoured. Sonora’s own father, William, was a vetran of the American Civil War and brought up his six children on his own when his wife died in childbirth. When Sonora campaigned for Father’s Day within her local Methodist community she suggested June 5th, her father’s birthday. The Church decided on a more movable feast and set on the 3rd Sunday in June – as it has been ever since in USA and many other countries.
Other events around that time may have also helped to promote Father’s Day in the popular imagination. The most important was a mining disaster in West Virginia where the death toll was huge. Most people now believe that the offical figure of around 350 was an underestimate and it is known that thousands of children lost their father.
The first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19th 1910, but the idea was slow to get off the ground. A bill in 1913 asked Congress to officially recognise Father’s Day, but President Woodrow Wilson couldn’t convince enough members: most feared the day would be too commercialised. In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson officially named the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day and Nixon made it a legal national holiday in 1972 which as it always falls on Sunday, I’m guessing didn’t change very much.
Father’s Day around the world.
The third Sunday of June is Father’s Day in Argentina, Canada, France, Greece, India, Ireland, Mexico, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, USA, UK and Venezuela.
The second Sunday of August is Father’s Day in Brazil.
It’s the first Sunday in September for Dads in Australia and New Zealand.
In Thailand it is celebrated on December 5, which is the birthday of the country’s king.
When did it start in the UK?
I haven’t been able to find a date for the first UK card being sent (it was definitely a greetings card driven event) but most people seem to think it was in the late 1960s/ early 1970s.
Do you agree? Can you remember the first Father’s Day card bought in your family? And what do you mean – your forgot yesterday was Father’s Day!
And then there’s National Thinking About You Week
Launched by the British Greeting Cards Association in 2014, it is slowly spreading around the world, although I haven’t seen much evidence of it in England. Anyone heard of it?
It kicks off today in Australia and sometime in September for the UK. Now, I do think this is commerical and cycnical. Let’s hope it quietly fades away. No one talk about it, agreed?