Who Invented Fathers Day?

Fathers Day is a date held on the third Sunday in June

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Father's Day is held on the third Sunday in June to celebrate and honor fathers. And while the first Mother's Day was celebrated in 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation making Mother's Day the second Sunday in May, a Father's Day did not become official until 1966. 

The History of Fathers Day

Who invented Fathers Day? While there are at least two or three different people credited with that honor, most historians consider Sonora Smart Dodd, of Washington State, to be the first person to have proposed the holiday in 1910.

Dodd's father was a civil war veteran named William Smart. Her mother died giving birth to her sixth child so that left William Smart a widower with five children to raise on his own. When Sonora Dodd married and had her own children, she realized what a tremendous job her father had done in raising her and her siblings as a single parent.

So after hearing her Pastor give a sermon about the newly established Mother's Day, Sonora Dodd suggested to him that there should also be a Father's Day and proposed that the date be June 5, which is her father's birthday. However, Pastor needed more time to prepare a sermon, so he moved the date to June 19, the third Sunday of the month.

Ways of Celebrating Fathers Day

One of the early ways established to celebrate Father's Day was to wear a flower. Sonora Dodd suggested wearing a red rose if your father was still living, and wearing a white flower if your father was deceased.

Later presenting him with a special activity, gift or a card became commonplace.

Dodd spent years campaigning for Father's Day to be celebrated nationally. She commissioned the help of men's goods manufacturers and others who might benefit from a Father's Day, such as the makers of ties, tobacco pipes, and other products that would make for a suitable gift for fathers.

In 1938, a Fathers Day Council was founded by the New York Associated Men's Wear Retailers to help with the widespread promotion of Father's Day. Still, the public continued to resist the idea of a Father's Day. Many Americans believed an official Father's Day would be just another way for retailers to make money since the popularity of Mother's Day boosted the sale of gifts for mothers.

Making Fathers Day Official

As early as 1913, bills had been submitted to congress to recognize Father's Day nationally. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson pushed to make Father's Day official, but couldn't muster enough support from Congress. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge would also recommend that Father's Day be observed, but did not go so far as to issue a national proclamation.

In 1957, Margaret Chase Smith, a senator from Maine, wrote a proposal that accused Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while only honoring mothers. It wasn't until 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson finally signed a presidential proclamation that made the third Sunday of June, Fathers Day. In 1972, President Richard Nixon made Fathers Day a permanent national holiday.

What Do Fathers Want

Forget about snazzy ties, cologne, or car parts, what Fathers really want is family time.

According to a Fox News report, "About 87 percent of dads would rather have dinner with the family. Most fathers don't want another tie, as 65 percent said they would rather get nothing than another tie." And before you go running out to buy mens cologne, only 18 percent of dads said they want some kind of personal care product. And only 14 percen said they want automotive accessories.