This past Sunday was Father’s Day 2023 and as such was a day we honored and celebrated any paternal figures in our lives. When celebrating with your father have you ever wondered where the day first started? The history of the day is actually fairly simple and straightforward, it came after Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day originally started in the recovery era after the Civil War to honor mothers of fallen soldiers and the work they did during the war. After Mother’s Day began, some started pushing for a similar holiday to celebrate the fathers in families, but there was actually a bit of pushback. Part of what garnered so much support for Mother’s Day and caused the holiday to take off around the country was its commercial support. Many businesses saw the holiday as a means of production as they were able to market many sellable gifts to give. People felt differently about Father’s Day. They did not see the commercial appeal and marketable gift-giving ideas for fathers that they had for mothers.
Despite the lack of commercial spreading, one Washington state native worked to get the state to celebrate a father celebrating day.
Sonora Smart Dodd, who was raised by a widower, rallied to get locals in her area to celebrate a day to celebrate male parents. Her attempts were ultimately successful, and she managed to get the state to celebrate the country’s first-ever larger-scale Father’s Day on June 19,1910.
Eventually, the holiday did gain traction and it was even recognized by President Woodrow Wilson, who formalized Mother’s Day as a holiday, when he remotely raised a flag in Spokane in 1916 to honor the day.
When President Calvin Coolidge sat in Office in 1924, he pushed states to observe the holiday.
There was an era in the ‘20s and ‘30s where people pushed for a merger of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in favor of a new day called Parents’ Day. Parents’ Day supporters rallied in New York City to emphasize their want for a day honoring two parents together to celebrate, love, and respect them equally.
Ultimately, the push for Parents’ Day was abandoned after the Great Depression solidified the two days remaining separate. In attempts to stay afloat, businesses pushed gift-giving and heaving marketed items for men for Father’s Day and for women for Mother’s Day. This is where we first started associating things like neckties, hats, golf, and other sports with Father’s Day.
Eventually when we entered World War II, Father’s Day became a day to honor veterans as well. This solidified the holiday as its own day and as a milestone in American holidays and culture. But still, it was not until 1972 that the day became a federal holiday when Richard Nixon signed it into history.