5 things you didn’t know you didn’t know about Father’s Day – Updated by Tanya Pai on June 18, 2016


I’d like to dedicate this stock photo selection to my dad. Hi, Dad!		Shutterstock

I’d like to dedicate this stock photo selection to my dad. Hi, Dad! Shutterstock

Father’s Day is upon us once again this Sunday, June 19, and while you’ve hopefully already bought dear old Dad a cool gadget or witty card to mark the occasion (and if you haven’t, stop reading this and go get one!), you may have some questions about the holiday. Do we have Hallmark to thank (or curse) for it? Which came first, Father’s Day or Mother’s Day? Read on for answers to those questions and more.

Where did Father’s Day originate?

The lore goes that the holiday is the brainchild of two different women. The first, Grace Golden Clayton of West Virginia, suggested to her pastor in 1908 that the church honor fathers, an idea likely inspired by a mining disaster in nearby Monongah the year before that killed 362 men and left 1,000 widows and children.

The other woman, more widely recognized as the creator of Father’s Day, was Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Washington. Dodd and her five siblings were raised by a single father in a time when that was largely uncommon, and in 1910, she started a petition to recognize the holiday.

The first piece of legislation regarding the day was a 1913 bill by Congress specifying that “[t]he third Sunday in June is Father’s Day.” While its popularity waxed and waned over the years thanks to — no joke — tie manufacturers, it slowly gained popularity from the 1930s to the ‘60s. (Read my colleague Phil Edwards’s piece “How the necktie industry saved Father’s Day” to get the whole fascinating story.)

In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation to mark the celebration of Father’s Day, and in 1972 President Richard Nixon finally signed it into law.

Father’s Day is now celebrated in many other countries, including Russia, Thailand, and Australia, though not always on the same day as in America, and not always in the same fashion. For instance, the Telegraph notes that in Germany, “[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.”

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