As Father’s Day Reaches Its 100th Year

We take a look back at how the celebration began

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"Any man can be a Father, but it takes a special person to be called Dad"

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As Father’s Day reaches its 100th Year milestone this weekend, we take a look back at how the celebration began.

The idea of a special day for fathers came from Sonora Smart Dodd after she heard a a church sermon at Spokane's Central Methodist Episcopal Church in 1909 about the newly recognised Mother's Day. Sonora, who was brought up by her father after her mother’s death, felt strongly that fatherhood needed recognition, as well.

She wanted a celebration that honored fathers like her own father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran who was left to raise his family alone when his wife died giving birth to their sixth child.

The first observance of Father's Day is believed to have been held on June 13, 1910. Enlisting help from Washington’s Spokane Ministerial Association in 1909, Sonora arranged for the celebration of fatherhood in Spokane.

On June 19, 1910, young members of the YMCA went to church wearing roses: a red rose to honor a living father, and a white rose to honor a deceased one. Dodd traveled through the city in a horse-drawn carriage, carrying gifts for fathers.

It took many years to make the holiday official. In spite of support from the YWCA, the YMCA, and churches, Father's Day ran the risk of disappearing from the calendar.

Where Mother's Day was met with enthusiasm, Father's Day was often ridiculed. The holiday was gathering attention slowly, but for the wrong reasons. It was the target of much satire, parody and derision, including jokes from the local newspaper.

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

In addition to Father's Day, International Men's Day is celebrated in many countries on November 19 for men and boys who are not fathers.

June 16, 2010