The History and Significance of Father’s Day

The History and Significance of Father’s Day

Father’s Day, a holiday dedicated to honoring fathers and father figures, is celebrated on the third Sunday of June in the United States. The origin of Father’s Day can be traced back to the early 20th century, but it took several decades for it to become a nationwide holiday.

The First Father’s Day Celebration

The nation’s first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910, in the state of Washington. However, it wasn’t until 1972, 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson established Mother’s Day, that Father’s Day became a recognized federal holiday in the United States. Father’s Day 2023 will fall on Sunday, June 18.

The History and Significance of Father’s Day

Inspiration from Mother’s Day

The concept of Father’s Day was inspired by the peace-and-reconciliation campaigns after the Civil War. During the 1860s, West Virginia celebrated “Mother’s Work Days,” organized by activist Ann Reeves Jarvis, which brought together mothers of Confederate and Union soldiers. However, Mother’s Day didn’t become a commercial holiday until 1908 when John Wanamaker department store in Philadelphia sponsored a service dedicated to mothers, leading to its widespread popularity.

The Origins of Father’s Day

Unlike Mother’s Day, Father’s Day didn’t receive immediate enthusiastic support. It wasn’t until July 5, 1908, that the nation’s first event honoring fathers took place at a West Virginia church. Still, it remained a one-time commemoration. The following year, Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, who was raised by a widower, campaigned for an official Father’s Day. Washington State celebrated the first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. Over time, the holiday spread, and in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day.

Controversy and Commercialism

Despite its growing popularity, some men disdained Father’s Day, considering it too sentimental or overly commercialized. During the 1920s and 1930s, there was a movement to combine Mother’s Day and Father’s Day into a single holiday, Parents’ Day. However, the Great Depression derailed this effort, and Father’s Day continued to gain commercial momentum.

Father’s Day as a Federal Holiday

In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday, finally giving it the recognition it deserved. Today, Father’s Day is celebrated by honoring fathers and father figures with gifts and gestures of appreciation. Americans spend more than $1 billion annually on Father’s Day gifts.

How People Celebrate Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a heartwarming occasion when individuals take the opportunity to express their gratitude and love for their fathers. One common way of celebrating is by sending heartfelt cards or thoughtful gifts to fathers, expressing appreciation for their unwavering support and care. The gifts given on Father’s Day vary widely, ranging from sports items or clothing to electronic gadgets, outdoor cooking supplies, and tools for household maintenance. The diversity in gift choices reflects the uniqueness of each father’s interests and hobbies.

The traditions associated with Father’s Day are as diverse as the families themselves. Some families keep it simple, exchanging phone calls or greeting cards, while others throw grand parties to honor all the father figures within their extended families. These father figures can encompass fathers, step-fathers, fathers-in-law, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and other male relatives who have played a significant role in their lives. In the weeks leading up to Father’s Day, schools and Sunday schools actively engage their pupils in creating handmade cards or small gifts as a token of appreciation for their fathers.

The Influence of Sonora Smart Dodd: A Fitting Tribute to Fathers

One of the influential figures in the establishment of Father’s Day was Sonora Smart Dodd. She was inspired by the efforts of Anna Jarvis, who had successfully advocated for the celebration of Mother’s Day. Sonora’s inspiration came from her own father, who single-handedly raised six children after the untimely death of their mother—an uncommon and commendable feat during that era when many widowers placed their children in the care of others or remarried quickly.

In recognition of her father’s remarkable dedication, Sonora sought to establish a day to honor fathers nationwide. The inaugural Father’s Day celebration took place in June of 1910, and its popularity grew steadily over the years. In 1972, Father’s Day was officially recognized as a holiday by President Richard Nixon, solidifying its place as an annual tribute to fathers.

The Symbolism and Inspiration Behind Father’s Day

The idea of celebrating Father’s Day was partially influenced by the tradition of Mother’s Day, which gained prominence in the early 20th century. The recognition of mothers paved the way for acknowledging the significance of fathers and their roles in shaping the lives of their children positively.

As Father’s Day continues to be celebrated with love and admiration across the United States, it serves as a reminder of the critical role fathers play in families and communities. It also fosters an environment where father-like figures are honored, appreciated, and given the recognition they truly deserve.

Father’s Day Around the World

While this article focuses on Father’s Day in the United States, it is essential to acknowledge that various countries celebrate this occasion with their own unique traditions and customs. In some nations, Father’s Day may be observed on different dates, each holding cultural and historical significance.


Father’s Day holds a special place in the hearts of millions of people around the world, as it allows us to express our love and gratitude to the fathers and father figures who have played significant roles in our lives. Whether it’s through heartfelt cards, thoughtful gifts, or spending quality time together, Father’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate and cherish the important men in our lives. Let us continue to honor and appreciate fathers for their love, support, and guidance throughout the years.