Celebrating our Fathers

It is an adventure to explore how holidays began to spread and the power of one person’s voice to make a difference for generations to come.

We have always known holidays like Mother’s Day, Grandparents’ Day, Father’s Day, and others existed. However, did we know the history behind these holidays and how they were established as an official holiday for the whole country to know about? Their history might have started by one person, a group of people, or an unlikely event. With some research, we found a lot of information about these particular holidays.

Although it is a little late we want to honor the fantastic fathers everywhere in the world.  One of our upcoming workshops for the Building Change Convergence this October called the Philly Dudes Collective supports men in becoming better allies to sexual assault survivors, so we chose to explore the history of Father’s Day and how it began to spread throughout the country.

The idea of Father’s Day began in the early 1900s in the United States. There was a family called the Smart family, comprised of two parents with 5 children (one older girl and four younger boys). The oldest girl, Sonora was 16 years old when her mother passed away. Her father became a single parent who took care of Sonora and her younger brothers.  Sonora did not realize the strength her dad put forth in taking care of all them by himself until she was older. From then on, she believed that fathers should be honored and celebrated.

Sonora started spreading this idea after a sermon about Mother’s Day at her church in 1909 in her hometown, Spokane, Washington. In 1910, Sonora made a trip to the YMCA of Spokane and held a petition on having a day to honor all fathers. She had help from pastors and reverends from various churches of the area including the church Sonora attends. After a discussion, they decided to have a sermon specifically for fathers on June 19, 1910. After the sermon, the mayor of Spokane and the Governor from the state of Washington proclaimed a day of celebrating all fathers. It had not been proclaimed, however, as an official holiday throughout the country.

Father’s Day was celebrated on Sonora’s father’s birthday in June, also the same month they held the sermon.

Father’s Day started spreading throughout the country including Washington D.C. President Woodrow Wilson opened a Father’s Day service at the White House and President Calvin Coolidge recognized Father’s Day as a holiday.

President Coolidge said, “The widespread observance of this occasion is calculated to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children, and also to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”

In 1966 and in 1972, presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon established Father’s Day to be on the third Sunday of June. Since then, Father’s Day has been recognized as a holiday celebrating all fathers.

Sonora Smart, being the first one to voice out the idea was honored as the “Mother of Father’s Day” by the National of Father’s Day Committee. Sonora was one person who advocated an idea she believed in. The idea of Father’s Day made a difference to the whole country, because people now recognize how important fathers are in a family.

Even if we know that certain holidays exist such as the ones mentioned above, it is important to know the history behind them, because in this case it sends a message that one person can make a difference if they let their voice be heard.