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Why Do We Celebrate Father’s Day? – ‘The Why’

Welcome to the latest edition of The Why.

Everywhere you look the media is pushing you telling you who to follow, what to watch and when to watch it.   You’re even sometimes told how to do it all.  Truth is, here at American Live Wire we do a bit of that too.  The big difference is we also tell you why.

You ask the questions.  We provide the answers.

Why do we celebrate Father’s Day?” you ask? Why do we in America and nearly two dozen other countries set aside the third Sunday in June for our paternal parent? Why is this the time we all at least attempt to tangibly acknowledge our appreciation of our fathers?

Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day!/Image:Comments20

Why do we celebrate Father’s Day? We celebrate now to let dads know we love them because quite frankly too many people out there spend too much of their lives taking their dads for granted. The holiday’s origins are much less unusual that that of Mother’s Day.

Why do we celebrate Father’s Day? We celebrate it because it was created to complement Mother’s Day. That’s it. Mother’s Day such an unexpected hit that numerous people have attempted to take credit for coming up with its successful sequel.

Most sources, however, give credit to Sonora Dodd who held the first Father’s Day in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA on June 19, 1910. Just like Mother’s Day, this day has a connection to the “war between the states”. According to sources such as Wikipedia Dodd’s dad was a “Civil War veteran (named) William Jackson Smart.” He “was a single parent who raised his six children” alone.

Dodd, inspired by a sermon about Mother’s Day in 1909, decided Father’s Day should be on her father’s birthday which was June 5. None of the pastors to which she spoke thought that would be enough time to prepare so the celebration was put off until the third Sunday of June. It met with limited success initially and nearly faded into obscurity despite the fact that in In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson wanted to make it official.  (Congress feared it would become too commercialized.)

Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day!/Image: FathersDaySayings

In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge suggested the Father’s Day be a national holiday but didn’t actually issue an official proclamation.  In the 1930s, when Dodd returned from school to Spokane she again focused on the celebration. Enter the tie and pipe manufacturers (much like modern day movie execs) who recognized the commercial possibilities in promoting a sequel. So in 1938 she would have the full force of “the Father’s Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers” behind her helping to professionally promote it.

Americans reportedly resisted Father’s Day for “a few decades” because they saw it as little more than a move by many merchants to cash in on the “commercial success” of Mother’s Day. Indeed, newspapers were frequently filled with sarcastic, cynical jokes and attacks on this so-called “holiday.”  Just as movie-makers didn’t give up on the Batman franchise after Joel Schumacher, the manufacturers and merchants kept trying.

At one point they even used the numerous jokes about the day in their advertisements.  In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith composed a proposal and even told members of Congress that they had been “ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thereby “[singling] out just one of our two parents”.

Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day!/Image:TOO

Finally in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued officially proclaimed the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Still, it would not be until 1972 that they day was designated as a “permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law.”

“Why do we celebrate Father’s Day?” We celebrate Father’s Day because it’s good for business. In fact by sometime in the 1980s the Father’s Council noted that Father’s Day had ‘become a Second Christmas for all the men’s gift-oriented industries.”

Why do we celebrate Father’s Day? We celebrate it because it’s an official national holiday. We celebrate it because even in this day an age of being overly politically-correct we acknowledge that if mothers deserve a day then so do fathers.

Why do we celebrate Father’s Day? Now you know.

Happy Father’s Day!

You ask the questions.  We provide the answers.

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About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.