It’s almost Father’s Day, so we thought we’d find out how it all began. Who came up with Father’s Day, and when was the first Father’s Day?
Although disputed by some, it’s generally accepted that the idea for Father’s Day came on the heels of Mother’s Day (not to be confused with Mothering Sunday).
It’s believed that Sonora Dodd came up with the idea of Father’s Day after listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in Washington in 1910. As Sonora and her five brothers were brought up by their father in a single-parent family (after her mother died in childbirth), she resolved that fathers needed recognition for the role they played, and campaigned to have a special day, like Mother’s Day, which would be devoted to thanking fathers. With the help of her local YMCA and the Ministerial Association of Spokane (a city near her birthplace), Sonora worked hard to have an official Father’s Day formally recognised.
The first Father’s Day was celebrated on June the 19th in 1910 in Spokane, but in the 1920s the holiday was rather forgotten. It gained popularity again over time though, and in 1966 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a presidential proclamation making the third Sunday in June Father’s Day. In 1972 President Nixon permanently established the third Sunday as a holiday to be observed nationally.
Of course, what starts in America, often ends up in the UK. Hence why we also have Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June each year.
So what should you do (according to tradition) to celebrate your father/grandfather/stepfather etc on Father’s Day? That depends on what country you’re from.
In some regions in Germany it’s traditional for groups of men to go into the woods with beer, wine, meat (a barbecue in other words) and have a good time relaxing and drinking.
In Mexico some father’s take part in the 21km race in Mexico City – the “Carrera Dia del Padre 21K Bosque de Tlalpan”. (Personally I’m sure most fathers would prefer breakfast in bed than a grueling running race on their special day, but each to their own.)
In Thailand the King gives an annual speech and it is traditional for Thais to give their fathers and grandfathers the Canna flower, which is thought to have masculine associations.
Whatever country you’re from, the general consensus is that on Father’s Day, fathers should get a treat of some kind. Whether that is being taken out for a meal, a gift, a card, or even just a phone call to say “thanks and I’m thinking of you”.
(In Bath for Father’s Day? We can recommend Sunday lunch at the Boater, a round of golf at Bath pitch and putt course at Entry Hill, or an afternoon at the Bath Festival of Motoring which is on this weekend.)