The origin of Father’s Day

fathers-day-history

Being a father is one of the most joyous experiences of life. Fatherhood is an extreme bliss. The role of a father in a family is not only of the bread earner, but he is the guide and the supporter of the family.  Fathers Day is the day to send special thanks to our dear fathers, the person who has stood beside us holding our hands through thick and thin.

fathersFather’s Day is a wonderful festival that acknowledges and appreciates the important role played by a father in raising the children and contributing with everything he has towards the family. We have all loved our fathers and they have been revered and respected but the official recognition of the importance of Fathers in our lives started since the last century.

Historians have recorded that there was a tradition to celebrate Father’s Day even thousands of years ago. Their study state that 4,000 years ago in Babylon a son called Elmesu carved a Father’s Day message on a clay card. In his message, Elmesu wished his father a long and healthy life. Historically this was the beginning of observing a day specially dedicated to fathers. It is believed that several countries retained the custom of celebrating Father’s Day from then on.

As recorded by the history channel, the first known celebration of Father’s Day was on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia, where it was commemorated at William Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South – now known as Central United Methodist Church. Grace Golden Clayton is believed to have suggested it to her pastor after a deadly explosion in nearby Monongah in December, killing 361 men. Some other facts collected by famous historians state that Father’s Day story is the tale of realisation of the need for a Father’s Day festival primarily by Ms Sonora  Louise Smart Dodd of Washington. The story narrates Sonora’s undeterred struggle to officially set a day to honour all fathers. Thanks to Sonora, today Fathers Day is celebrated in a large number of countries around the world.

fathers-day-historyMs Sonora Louise Smart Dodd of Washington is the pioneer of Fathers Day celebration. It was also during a sermon in 1909 that Sonora Smart Dodd became inspired by Mother’s Day. At the tender age of 27, Sonora’s heart kept on pondering. She wanted to know that if there is a day to honour mothers then why not for fathers?

Sonora had a strong influence of a father figure in her own life. She felt strongly for fathers because of the affection she received from her own father Mr William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran. Sonora’s mother died during childbirth when she was just 16. Mr Smart raised the newborn and five other children with love and care. Sonora wanted to show how thankful she was to her father and, because William was born in June, she worked hard to have the first Father’s Day celebrated on June 19, 1910.

The Spokane Ministerial Association and the local Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) of Spokane Washington supported Sonora’s cause and strived as a team. As a result, Spokane celebrated its first Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. Though there was initial hesitation the idea gained gradual popularity all over US and Fathers Day came to be celebrated in cities across the country. In 1924, President  Coolidge recommended that Father’s Day become a national holiday. President Johnson designated the third Sunday of June to be Father’s Day in 1966. It was not until 1972 that President Nixon instituted Father’s Day as a national observance.

Since then Fathers Day is an important day in every one of our lives.

Courtesy of Amit Desai