Father's Day 2019: Paganism, roses and how the campaign to celebrate dads was won
Father's Day, the official calendar date to honour our wonderful dads and celebrate fatherhood, is fast approaching. Recognised each June, the day sees children around the world present their dads with cards and gifts as a thank you for all they do. But when did the first observance of Father's Day take place and who helped establish the annual celebration of paternal figures? From the history behind the celebration, to the more recent commercialisation, here is everything you need to know about Father's Day. When is Father's Day 2019? Father’s Day is held every year on the third Sunday of June; this year Father’s Day falls on Sunday, June 16 in the UK. Typically, fathers are showered with cards and presents on Father’s Day, with some families celebrating together by going on days out. Younger children also tend to make handmade gifts for their fathers at school and extracurricular clubs, including drawings, paintings or cards. As society and family structures have changed, some people now celebrate their stepfathers on Father’s Day. In recent years there have been calls for a Stepfather's Day, however no such day has been officially discussed or introduced. Father's Day falls on June 16 this year Credit: E+ The history of Father's Day The first events in recognition of fatherhood took place in the US and followed Anna Jarvis' first celebration of Mother's Day in 1908, as well as the earlier observations of Mothering Sunday in the UK. Grace Golden Clayton, from Fairmont, West Virginia, was the woman behind the first event to celebrate fathers in 1908. Just over a year prior to this event, the Monongah Mining Disaster took place in December 1907, with the explosion killing 361 men. Of these fatalities, 250 were fathers. In honour of the one thousand children who lost their fathers, Clayton encouraged her pastor, Rev. Robert Thomas Webb, to hold a service at the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South. Clayton missed her own father terribly, after he passed away in 1896, so she chose to honour the lives lost on July 5, 1908, the closest date to his birthday. While Clayton was responsible for the first recognition of fatherhood and the paternal bond, her work didn't directly encourage the creation of Father's Day. The memorial service was never promoted outside the town of Fairmont and the service was overshadowed by the significant Independence Day celebrations held a day beforehand. Yet the idea was also picked up on in the following year, when Sonora Smart Dodd started her quest to honour fathers in the same way as mothers. Dodd, born in Arkansas in 1882, was one of six children and at the age of seven, she moved to Washington with her family. When she was 16 years old, her mother, Ellen Victoria Cheek Smart, died after giving birth to her sixth child, leaving her father, William Jackson Smart, a farmer and Civil War veteran, as a single parent. After listening to a Mother's Day sermon at the Central Methodist Episcopal Church in 1909, Dodd felt that fathers deserved equal recognition. With the local YMCA and the Ministerial Association of Spokane, Dodd began a campaign to have the day officially recognised. The first such 'Father’s Day' was held at the YMCA in Spokane on June 19, 1910, with a number of towns and cities across America later following suit. Support for Father’s Day quickly increased throughout the US and in 1924 President Calvin Coolidge pressured state governments to mark the celebration. President Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honouring fathers in 1966, making the third Sunday in June Father’s Day. Six years later President Richard Nixon signed it into law, establishing the day as a national holiday – though in the UK it does not enjoy this status. The move came after a campaign by a number of public figures, including Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who in 1957 wrote to Congress: “Either we honour both our parents, mother and father, or let us desist from honouring either one. “But to single out just one of our two parents and omit the other is the most grievous insult imaginable.” Dodd's message later spread to other countries across the globe and it is thought that Britain began celebrating Father's Day after World War II. Today, the celebration of fathers has become an important commercial event for high street shops and online retailers, with promotions for the best gifts and cards appearing in the build up to the day each year. Father’s Day around the world While in the UK fathers can expect, at best, breakfast in bed and handmade card and, at worst, the day to be completely ignored, elsewhere the festival is done a little differently. In Germany, Father’s Day is called Vatertag with it also being referred to as Männertag, which means men’s day. The celebration falls on the Thursday 40 days after Easter. In certain regions it is traditional for groups of men to go into the woods with a wagon of beer, wines and meats. Heavy drinking is common and, according to official statistics, traffic-related accidents spike on this day. In Australia, Father’s Day falls on the first Sunday of September, which is their first Sunday of Spring, while in Croatia, they observe Roman Catholic tradition and celebrate fathers on March 19, Saint Joseph’s Day. In China, Father’s Day used to be celebrated on August 8 as the Chinese for eight is “ba”, while a colloquial word for father is “ba-ba” – so the eighth day of the eighth month sounds similar to “daddy”. The day has since been moved to the third Sunday of June, in line with the UK and US. In France, the day was introduced in 1949 for commercial reasons by lighter manufacturer Flaminaire. Inspired by the US' day of celebration, they created a new advert with the slogan 'Nos papas nous l'ont dit, pour la fête des pères, ils désirent tous un Flaminaire' ('Our fathers told us, for father's day, they all want a Flaminaire'). Three years later an official decree was made to recognise the day. Most countries celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June including the UK, USA, Mexico, Ireland, France, Greece, China and Japan. However not all countries celebrate it then. In Brazil, Father’s Day falls on the second Sunday of August and this day was chosen in honour of Saint Joachim, the patron saint of fathers. According to Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox traditions, Joachim was the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The ultimate films on fatherhood Father's Day tales and traditions Some pagans suggest that Father's Day is closely linked to the Pagan Sun worship, because the sun is thought to be the father of the universe and the celebration of dads falls closely to the summer solstice. Roses are the official flower of Father's Day, with people previously wearing them to church on this date. While this tradition is rarely seen today, sons and daughters used to wear either a red rose in admiration of a living father or a white rose in memory of a deceased father. Sonora Smart Dodd, the founder of Father's Day, selected this flower and it is said that during the early celebrations, she handed out roses to home-bound fathers, while on a horse-drawn carriage ride around the city. Father's Day gifts and presents From cutesy cards, socks and ties to luxurious watches and fantastic car experiences, Britons present their paternal figures with an array of unique gifts on Father's Day. But, demand for the perfect Father's Day present has led to the increasing commercialisation of the day, with retailers competing to offer the best gifts and consumers heading to their high street shops and online retailers. According to MuchNeeded, Father's Day is a popular shopping day in both the UK and US, with 75 per cent of men expected to celebrate the occasion this year. While Britons and Americans spend a significant amount on Father's Day each year, on average it only accounts for half the spending around Mother's Day. Is it Father's Day, Fathers' Day or Fathers Day? Ah, the age old question. The answer? Many say Father's Day is the correct version. Mother's Day (which has the apostrophe before the 's') set the precedent while Father's Day was still gaining popularity. Anna Jarvis trademarked the term 'Mother's Day' – with the apostrophe before the 's' – in 1912, saying the word should 'be a singular possessive, for each family to honour its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world'. President Woodrow Wilson used this spelling when he formalised Mother's Day in 1914; this means the correct version of the word is spelled with the apostrophe before the 's'. Father's Day has followed suit, with cards on both sides of the pond including the apostrophe in the same place.
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