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WHY WE CELEBRATE FATHER’S DAY
Father’s Day celebrates and honors the men who have embraced the essential role of fatherhood. On this day, we also thank fathers and father figures for the sacrifices they make, for embracing the responsibility of nurturing and raising children, and for devotion to their family.
WHEN IS FATHER’S DAY 2021?
In 2021, Father’s Day will be celebrated on Sunday, June 20. This happens to be the same day as the summer solstice (June 20 at 11:32 P.M. Eastern Time), making it the first day of the summer season.
Father’s Day is celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, India, and a number of other countries around the world.
Many countries celebrate this holiday at other times of the year. In Australia, for example, Father’s Day is held on the first Sunday of September; in Norway, Sweden, and Finland, on the second Sunday in November; and in some Catholic countries, on March 19 (St. Joseph’s Day).
WHO “INVENTED” FATHER’S DAY?
Like Mother’s Day, the modern American version of Father’s Day has a history that goes well beyond greeting cards.
The first known Father’s Day service occurred in Fairmont, West Virginia, on July 5, 1908, after hundreds of men died in the worst mining accident in U.S. history. The Sunday service happened because of the efforts of Grace Golden Clayton, the daughter of a dedicated reverend.
While missing her own dad, who had died in 1896, Mrs. Clayton wanted to honor the many fathers who had died in the mining explosion, which killed more than 360 men and boys, and left about 1,000 children fatherless. Although the Fairmont service was the first known to honor fathers, it did not turn into an annual event, nor was the idea promoted (a large July 4 celebration in Fairmont and a tragic young death from typhoid fever took over the news at the time).
Father’s Day Gains Momentum
Several other people across the nation had similar ideas throughout the years, but Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd is credited for being the one to popularize it, starting events that led to Father’s Day becoming a U.S. national holiday.
Her story began as she sat listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. Mrs. Dodd thought that it might be nice to honor fathers as well. Her father, William Smart, had raised his SIX children alone on his farm in Washington after his wife died giving birth.
Mrs. Dodd proposed to the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA that they celebrate a “father’s day.” She chose the 5th of June because it was her father’s birthday.
The idea received strong support, but the good ministers of Spokane asked that the day be changed to give them extra time to prepare sermons on the unexplored subject of fathers. The first Father’s Day in Spokane, Washington, was observed on June 19, 1910 (the third Sunday in June), and became an annual event there. Soon, other towns had their own celebrations.
From Local Celebration to National Holiday
In spite of widespread support, Father’s Day did not become a permanent national holiday for many years. The first bill was introduced in Congress in 1913, but in spite of encouragement by President Woodrow Wilson, it did not pass. In 1966, Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June to honor fathers.
Finally, in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a law declaring that Father’s Day be celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June. It has been an official, permanent national holiday ever since.