Most of us are familiar with the origin and history of Mother's Day and its linkage back to ancient goddess festivals, England's Mothering Sunday, the American political activist Julia Ward Howe, and finally Anna Jarvis's campaign from church to church to declare her devotion to her own mother.
But the history and origin of Father's Day is less well-known. I did a bit of research because of this, and found that the idea of a complementary "Father's Day was the brainchild of Sonora Dodd, who first had the idea while she was sitting in church listening to one of these Mother's Day sermons in 1909.
She wanted to honor her own father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran, who was widowed when his wife died while giving birth to their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children, by himself, on a rural farm in eastern Washington state. Her father had raised them, as a single father, with many sacrifices and in the eyes of his daughter, a courageous, selfless, and loving man. Sonora believed that if a single father had raised and loved children with selfless devotion as hers had, then those fathers deserved their own day of devotion, just as the mother's had. Thus, the first Father's Day, was actually intended for single dads who served as the only parent, and not all dads in general. It simply grew into the holiday we know it as, today.
Sonora's father was born in June, so she chose to hold the first Father's Day celebration in Spokane, Washington on the 19th of June, 1910. She had wanted the use his birth date but pending legislation was slowed down until President Calvin Coolidge, in 1924, supported the idea of a national Father's Day.
Eventually, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation (1966) declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day. President Richard Nixon signed the law which finally made it permanent in 1972. In this sense, it is a relatively newer celebration, but one which most of us have celebrated throughout our own lives.
While other countries may or may not have their own versions of this day, some of the variations are quite interesting. In Germany there is no such thing as Father's Day but there are two terms and/or events of an older origin that while similar in name, have entirely different meanings.
Männertag, is always celebrated on Ascension Day (the Thursday forty days after Easter), which is a federal holiday. Regionally, it is also called men's day, Männertag, or gentlemen's day, Herrentag. It is tradition to do a males-only hiking tour with one or more smaller wagons, Bollerwagen, pulled by manpower.
In countries with Roman Catholic tradition, Fathers are celebrated on Saint Joseph's Day, commonly called Feast of Saint Joseph, March 19, though in most countries Father's Day is a secular celebration and celebrated separately from the feast holiday.
In Taiwan, Father's Day is not an official holiday, but is widely observed on August 8, the eighth day of the eighth month of the year. In Mandarin Chinese, the pronunciation of the number 8 is ba.
This pronunciation is very similar to the character "?" "bà", which means "Papa" or "father". The Taiwanese, therefore, usually call August 8 by its nickname, "Baba Day." In Thailand, Father's Day is set as the birthday of the king and thus varies from generation to generation of its royalty. No matter what your country, your culture, or traditions, today is still a special day to honor fathers everywhere.
A good, hard working man, who was still working to fix up our childhood home in Douglas, Alaska up and into his last year at age 93, still working so very hard every day of his life care taking my mother who suffered from Alzheimer's, diabetes and was legally blind, I show (above) the photo quilt that I made for him many years ago.
I titled it "Turning Ninety" , a variation of a "Turning Twenty" pattern. As a WWII veteran, the father of 5 children, and a hard working and very dedicated and loving husband to my mother, and as someone who never forgot his and his brothers sacrifices for country and for family during WWII, I used photos from that time and from his courtship with my Louisiana French mother, who he met, fell in love with and married after the war years.
Because my mother was legally blind, but could see shapes and colors and could see details if things were large enough, or if she used a magnifying glass, I made the quilt pieces and photos very large.
They both loved it and treasured it. After their deaths, it came back home to Oregon with me, once more and now I treasure all of the memories of making it, of them and our lives together.
I honor my husband, the father of our children, a man who in many, many ways reminds me of my own father. A man who at 65 still works long, long hours during the day, and often into the evening. Who commutes to four different towns in our area just to get work for our home based business and never complains as he comes home to help me and the chickens ;-)
I honor my son, an amazing, amazing husband and playful and loving father to his little one, our first grand child. My son works so hard, right along the side of his father, my husband, to keep our small family business going even though it means commuting up to four hours a day. He comes home tired and cooks dinner, helps with laundry, plays for hours with the baby, and then stays up late at night to get his part of our business's paper work done. He is an amazing young man that I am so proud to say is my son!
I honor the hard work ethic of my son-in-law, who works tirelessly to provide for my daughter and their family. A man yet to be test by fatherhood, himself, but that test will also prove the full worth of his adaptability, love, and determination to be who he wants and was meant to be. A good man, a loving man, one who has faced so many challenges and has so many more to face. But I am confident in his ability to rise to any and all challenges.
These men in my life truly are among the best fathers and hard working providers and caring men that I know.
I honor all of my Alaskan uncles, men long gone but with amazing talents, skills, courage, and the perseverance to live and provide for their families with hunting and fishing in territorial Alaska as she slowly entered statehood and changed all of our lives.
My grandfathers..one Finnish, one French. Immigrants from their native countries, who paved the way for those to come before, or after.
I thank them for all they taught me and all they gave in turn to all of us, their families.
I honor these fathers, and all of your fathers, your husbands, your brothers and our sons who are fathers now, themselves.
Enjoy this special day and know, really know, just how much we all appreciate and love you!
Father's Day Gift and Craft Ideas...
fun things to do with children or grandchildren, today or any day!
Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey from Alaska to Oregon with thousands of free Quilting, Sewing, and Crafting Patterns and Tutorials. Help change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!