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Most people don’t actually know the history of Father’s Day, the when and how we first came to officially honor dad.
Father’s Day is a fairly new holiday. It is often mistakenly understood that Father’s Day and Mother’s Day evolved together side by side. This might be the logical assumption, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The reality is that when it came to holidays reverencing parents, the women came out of the winning end of the equation.
The first observance of Mother’s Day, or celebrations honoring mothers and motherhood dates back to well before the rise of Roman Empire. Dad has been overlooked for centuries. It wasn’t until 1909 when Sonora Smart Dodd first decided it was high time to give Dad his due and began to organize and agitate for such a holiday.
Dodd’s own mother had died in her early childhood. This left her father to raise her on his own. In a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909 Dodd thought of her own Father, and what a pity it was that there was not a corresponding holiday to celebrate fathers.
The first official celebration of a Father’s Day type celebration was held July 5th 1909 in West Virginia. The following year on June 19, 1910 Dodd held what was to become the first annual father’s Day celebration. She also began to lobby for the creation of an official holiday.
A Double Standard to Bust
This was not a popular idea. At first the popular public opinion was rather disparaging. The majority of people felt the creation of Father’s Day was a largely commercial effort to increase sales. Other’s thought that the very idea of throwing a party for dad was laughable.
Dodd was persistent in her efforts and slowly the concept began to catch on. Ironically, as pubic perception had predicted the first and most consistent promoters of Father’s Day other than Dodd herself were retailers.
Dad Gets His Day
In 1924 President Coolidge lent his approval to the creation of a national holiday and so it finally went onto the calendar. Yet the celebration still was an uphill road to tread before it really caught on and became the annual hoopla it is today.