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The Origins of Father’s Day: A Brief History

*Collaborative Post


On the third Sunday of every June, many countries, including the UK and US, celebrate Father’s Day, sending warm wishes and messages of thanks to our dads who have been there throughout the toughest of times.


Father and son


But do you know just where this tradition came from and why?

As the shops start to fill with Father’s Day cards, I decided to find out where this celebration of the men in our life came from.


Father’s Day Came a Lot Later than Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is an occasion that dates back several hundred years but Father’s Day took a while to be introduced.
Many people believe that it didn’t become a concept until 1908 when Grace Golden Clayton from West Virginia founded it.


Because a year and half before over 360 men were killed in a mine explosion in Monongah, and more than 200 of these men left behind over 1,000 daughters and sons. This deeply touched Clayton which is why she turned to her local pastor to help create a day that would honour fathers and remember those who had passed.


Clayton decided that the 5th July would be the date of Father’s Day (it was a date close to her own father’s birthday) but was left disappointed when the event didn’t take off. Numerous factors including a 4th July celebration the day before and lack of press coverage meant the day came and went without much notice.


A Woman’s Mission to Honour Fathers


Two years after Clayton tried to get Father’s Day off the ground, another American woman by the name of Sonora Smart Dodd also thought that Father’s Day should be publicly recognised.

She wanted to introduce this date on the 5th June, but as her local pastor needed more time to prepare, the 19th of June was chosen instead. When the day arrived, Dodd spent her time delivering gifts to fathers who couldn’t leave their homes because they were too ill.

Thankfully, she was more successful than Clayton in getting the concept noticed, even though it took several years for it to become an official holiday.


Changing Traditions

Back in 1910 when Dodd started her campaign for Father’s Day, it became tradition for sons and daughters to attend church wearing a rose. This rose symbolised their admiration for their fathers, while those who had lost their fathers wore a white one.

Over time, these Father’s Day celebrations have been largely replaced with family gatherings, but we do still venture to our father’s houses with gifts galore. Another more modern tradition is to serve dad breakfast in bed – but this too still pays homage to the idea and concept behind both Clayton’s and Dodd’s Father’s Day.

This Father’s Day, why not choose a red or white rose as a symbol of admiration for your father, be he here or in heaven?


Mum's Day roses in a glass jar

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