Tomorrow, June 16, the third Sunday of June, many of us will celebrate Father’s Day. In the US, FD is commonly viewed as an opportunity to gather with family for barbecues, picnics, sporting activities (e.g. baseball, golf or fishing), eat at a favorite restaurant, or attend a Broadway show. Generally, it is a fun day with family and friends.
The idea of an annual day to recognize fathers was first proposed by Sonora Dodd a resident of Spokane, WA, in 1909. She wanted to honor her own father who had raised her and five siblings as a single parent. In her opinion, mothers had their “day,” so why shouldn’t fathers. At first, she approached her pastor about organizing a special service on her father’s birthday, June 5, but for some reason, perhaps, time constraints, the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. The initial celebration was held in 1910.
For many years the idea of a “day” for fathers did not catch on with the general public. The major reason was the fear that it would become overly commercialized like Mother’s Day and Christmas. In addition, the media was not behind the concept. Rather than support the idea, they attacked it with sarcastic and cynical articles and cartoons. FD did, however, have its supporters. Congress debated a bill as early as 1913, but it did not pass. Presidents such as Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge spoke out in favor of it.
Margaret Chase Smith, a longtime influential Senator from Maine, criticized the inequity of Congress’ ignoring fathers while honoring mothers. Finally, in 1966 LBJ issued a Presidential proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as FD. It became a permanent holiday in 1972.
FD is celebrated differently in other countries around the world depending on seasons and various traditions and cultures, as follows:
United Kingdom – It is also celebrated on the third Sunday of June. It is recognized as a day to honor not only fathers, but also other father figures, such as grandfathers and fathers-in-law. As in the US, typically, people pay a visit and give cards and gifts. Other activities might include male-only outings [golf, football (soccer), or cricket], or trips. One significant difference is that the day is not considered to be a holiday, just a normal Sunday.
Canada – Very similar to the UK. Popular activities would include going to the park, the zoo, or eating out in a restaurant.
Russia – The holiday, celebrated on February 23, is called Defender of the Fatherland Day. All men are honored, not just fathers. It began as a military celebration and is still marked by military parades.
Mexico – Celebrated on the third Sunday of June. It is marked with parties and gifts for dads and a 21 kilometer Father’s Day race.
Brazil – It is celebrated on August 2 in honor of St. Joachim, patron saint of fathers and grandfathers.
Bulgaria celebrates the day in December.
According to The Sun various countries in the Southern Hemisphere, such as Australia and New Zealand, celebrate the holiday in September.
Northern European countries, such as Norway, Sweden and Finland, celebrate the day in November.
The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend slightly in excess of $100 per person on FD gifts in 2019. The estimated overall total is $16 billion, which would be a new record, just ahead of the previous record of $15.5 billion. As you might expect, according to the NRF this total pales next to the $25 billion we spent on mothers last month. What are the most popular gifts? According to the NRF #1 is a greeting card. No surprise there, but it is normally accompanied by another gift. #2 is a special outing, such as a sporting event, a trip, a movie, or a show. #3 is clothing.
Sports fans, which, let’s face it, include most dads, will have a variety of choices. In addition to the regular choices of the final round of US Open (held this year at historic Pebble Beach Golf Links) and MLB baseball many dads (and granddads) will be attending their kids’ (and grandkids’) sporting events. Some years, the NBA Finals are on tv, but not this year (congratulations to the Toronto Raptors who defeated the Golden State Warriors to win their first title). My family will be enjoying all of the above.
FD is one of the few days of the year when the wife will not complain (hopefully) when you watch “too much” sports.
Dads, it is your day. Whatever you decide to do, enjoy it.