The Origins of 

Father's Day 

Celebrate Father's Day with a meal out, but how did it all begin?

There is a school of thought that believes Father’s Day is a relatively recent concept, conceived to complement the already popular Mother’s Day in celebrate the paternal side of parenting.

 

It may, therefore, surprise you to know that scholars believe the earliest Father’s Day message came from a young boy called Elmesu, who lives 4000 years ago in Babylon (modern day Iraq), and carved a message on a card, out of clay, wishing his Babylonian father good health and a long life.

 

Father’s Day remains an annual appreciation in several countries all over the world that only became popular in Western culture during the early 20th century. Although there are numerous potential 'founders' of Father’s Day in Western society, one person‘s efforts stand out above all others.

Born in Arkansas, but raised just outside of Spokane, Washington, Sonora Smart Dodd had seen the success obtained by Anna Jarvis, promoting Mother’s Day in the US, and took it on herself to make sure fathers were honoured throughout the nation. Dodd'a own father, William Jackson Smart, was a Civil War veteran and a single parent who really six children after his wife died in childbirth. After hearing the sermon about Jarvis' Mother’s Day in 1909, she told the pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honouring them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the pastor hadn't enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.

The first Father’s Day celebration was in her home town of Spokane on June 19, 1910. Although it didn’t have much success initially, it was on her return from college in the early 1930s that Dodds started to raise awareness of the day on a national level. Having gained necessary support from trade groups that may benefit from the celebration (i.e. tie manufacturers, tobacconist etc) the Father’s Day council was founded by the New York Association Menswear Retailers to consolidate and systemise the commercial promotion in 1938. Despite her best efforts, Father’s Day still wasn't embraced by the American public who took a cynical view that, like Mother’s Day, it was synthetic celebration solely for the purpose of commercial industries to make more money.

Despite presidential backing, it wasn’t until 1966 that President Lyndon B, Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honouring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed into law in 1972.

 

It was soon after that Father’s Day was adopted by the UK, although not a national holiday, many of us take the opportunity to treat our 'dads' in the form of gifts, meals out, or just to a relaxing day.