Father's Day started in 1909 when Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, listened to a Mother's Day sermon and decided that fathers needed a special day, too.
Dodd's father was a Civil War veteran who raised six children by himself after his wife's death. A date in June 1910 was chosen because Dodd's father was born in June.
The holiday then slowly spread from Washington state.
Across the Nation
In 1916 President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, DC.
In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Fathers' Day. However, many men continued to disdain the day.
Combine and Commercialize
During the 1920s and 1930s a movement arose to scrap Mothers' Day and Fathers' Day altogether in favor of a single holiday, Parents’ Day.
However, the Depression derailed this effort to combine and de-commercialize the holidays. Struggling retailers and advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Fathers' Day a “second Christmas” for men, promoting goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and greeting cards.
When World War II began, advertisers began to argue that celebrating Fathers' Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war, Father’s Day might not have been a federal holiday, but it was a national institution.
Signed into Law
In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day, and then in 1972 President Richard Nixon signed Father’s Day into law.
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Here are some other facts about Fathers' Day:
- There are estimated to be 70.1 million fathers in the United States.
- 25.3 million fathers were were part of married-couple families with children younger than 18 in 2010.
- There were 1.8 million single fathers in 2010, and that means that 15 percent of single parents were men.
- It's estimated that there were 154,000 stay-at-home dads in 2010. These married fathers cared for 287,000 children for at least one year while their wives worked outside the home.
- $2.8 billion in child support was received by custodial fathers in 2007 (They were due $4.3 billion. In contrast custodial mothers received $18.6 billion of the $29.8 billion in support that was due.)
- 53 percent of children younger than six years old ate breakfast with their father; 71 percent ate dinner with Dad in 2006.
- 36 percent of children younger than six years old had 15 or more outings with their father in the last month, as of 2006.
- On the average, children ages three to five were read to by their fathers six times in the past week, as of 2006.
- 66 percent of children younger than six years old were praised three or more times a day by their fathers.
- Today, economists estimate Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Fathers' Day gifts.
- And finally there were 8,111 men’s clothing stores, 16,010 hardware stores and 7,009 home centers across the county in 2008, so there are plenty of places to run out any buy Dad a new tie or set of screwdrivers - but you'd better hurry!