Where Did ‘Father’s Day’ Come From?

Father's Day
Little girl holding card | Image by Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

Father’s Day will be celebrated on June 16 this year, but how did this day become about?

Fathers waited 58 years after former President Woodrow Wilson approved Mother’s Day as a holiday in 1914 before having a day of their own.

Former President Richard Nixon made Father’s Day an official holiday in 1972, according to the History Channel; however, officially honoring fathers goes back to the early 1900s.

On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event to honor fathers, per the National Women’s History Alliance.

In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd from Spokane, Washington, attempted to create a male equivalent of Mother’s Day by gaining support from local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers, and government officials. Due to Dodd’s efforts, the nation’s first statewide celebration of Father’s Day was in Washington State on June 19, 1910.

The holiday spread after Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane, Washington, in 1919, according to the History Channel.

It would not be until 1966 that former President Lyndon B. Johnson issued a proclamation declaring the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day, stating, “I invite State and local governments to cooperate in the observance of that day; and I urge all our people to give public and private expression to the love and gratitude which they bear for their fathers.”

Not until 1972, under former President Richard Nixon, did Congress officially make Father’s Day a national holiday, per Almanac.

$22.4 billion is expected to be spent on Father’s Day this year, according to an annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, down from the record high of $22.9 billion spent in 2023.

According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers spend an average of $189.81 on gifts and celebrations, with those aged 25 to 34 spending the most, averaging $275.67.

Greeting cards are the most purchased item to celebrate the day, followed by clothing, special outings, gift cards, and personal care items.

Father’s Day will be celebrated this year on Sunday, June 16.

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