You probably know that Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June, but do you know where and when the first father’s day was held? Who is credited with starting it? What gift fathers receive most? When it became an official holiday? What the official flower is? Should it be written as “Father’s Day” or “Fathers’ Day?” Let’s look at a few interesting facts about this day…
A sad first
The first Father’s Day was held to remember fathers who were killed in the Monongah Mining Disaster. Grace Clayton was one of the more than 1000 children who were now fatherless. She asked her pastor, Robert Webb, to honor those fathers. He chose the Sunday closest to Grace’s Father’s Birthday. The first modern Father’s Day was held on July 5th, 1908 in Fairmont,West Virginia at the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South. This event never gained traction outside of Fairmont for many reasons, not the least of which is another important holiday in July.
A much happier beginning
The Father’s Day that started the holiday was held on June 19th, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. Sonora Smart Dodd felt her daddy deserved to be celebrated. Her mother had died during childbirth when Sonora was 16. She was the only daughter and helped her Civil War Veteran father, William Jackson Smart, raise her 5 brothers. She was listening to a sermon about a new holiday called Mother’s Day and felt her esteemed father should get his due. She approached the Spokane Ministerial Alliance with her idea and rest is history.
It took a long time to become an official holiday
Father’s Day was popular throughout the nation by 1916. Bills were introduced to make it official, but were rejected by Congress because they feared the holiday would become commercialized. Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamatin making the 3rd Sunday in June Father’s Day in 1966. Richard Nixon finally made it a permanent national holiday in 1972.
Some random facts
Father’s day is now observed in over 50 countries around the world. It is the fourth largest holiday for greeting cards. The official flower is the rose. A red one is worn if your father is alive and a white one if he has passed. “Fathers’ Day” was the way Sonora wrote it, but the most common way is “Father’s Day.” Both are correct. No matter what way you choose to write it, be sure to celebrate the fathers in your life.