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The History of Father’s Day

Father’s Day in America can be traced back to the early 1900s. There are multiple ways to celebrate your paternal figures on this occasion. Spending quality time, giving gifts, or doing something meaningful for your loved ones are all ways you can show appreciation on Father’s Day. The history of Father’s Day is layered with numerous events and efforts by countless individuals that resulted in the national holiday that we know and celebrate today.


How it all began

In Fairmont, West Virginia in 1908 many gathered to mourn the lives of countless men in what was marked as the worst mining tragedy in US history. To celebrate the lives of the miners, the community held a memorial to show appreciation for the workers involved who collectively left over 1000 children without their dads. This Sunday Service was organized by the efforts of Grace Golden Clayton, motivated by the loss of her father who was a renowned reverend in their community. While what came to be known as the Fairmont Service was historic and acknowledged as the first Father’s Day celebration, the holiday was not celebrated annually until several years later.


The Mother of Father’s Day

Raised by a single dad, Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd set her sights on popularizing celebrating fathers while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. She petitioned the YMCA as well as the Spokane Ministerial association to celebrate fathers annually on June 5th, her father’s birthday. After deliberation, it was decided to observe dads every 3rd Sunday in June to allow enough time after Mother’s Day for ministers to prepare sermons related to the unheard-of topic.  On June 19, 1910 the first unofficial Father’s Day was celebrated in Washington and quickly grew across cities and communities around the country. Although Mrs. Smart Dodd is recognized as the mother of Father’s Day, the holiday was still not officially recognized nationwide.


A Journey to Legislation

Despite support from the White House, there was still a long road before Father’s Day was passed into law. The first President to show public support and acknowledgment of Father’s Day was President Woodrow Wilson. He previously established Mother’s Day as a national holiday, but unfortunately, Congress did not approve the bill he presented to establish Father’s Day as a holiday. Finding the day just as important, Wilson ensured to publicly celebrate Father’s Day with his family every year, becoming the first President to encourage its acknowledgment. President Calvin Coolidge then petitioned states to celebrate the occasion in 1924, but to no avail. An executive order made by President Lyndon Johnson was the first official proclamation that the holiday was to be celebrated as well as the American flag displayed on every government building in 1966. Finally, it was President Richard Nixon to sign a law in 1972 declaring that Father’s Day was to officially be celebrated annually on every third Sunday in June.


Today, Father’s Day is celebrated not only nationwide but worldwide as well. Countries like Australia, Finland, and Norway all celebrate the holiday annually during different months of the year. Here at Village Park, we ensure to honor the fathers in our communities. To find out more about how we celebrate our residents, be sure to visit our social media pages to keep up with our latest events.