With Father’s Day next Sunday, have you ever wondered about it’s origins?
Father’s Day originated in the Middle Ages on 19 March, as the feast day of Saint Joseph, “the putative father of Jesus”. The modern version of Father’s Day emerged in the US in the early 1900s when Harry C. Meek, claimed to have first come up with the modern idea for Father’s Day in 1915 choosing the third Sunday in June because it was his birthday.
On June 19, 1910, a Father’s Day celebration was held at the YMCA in Washington by Sonora Smart Dodd. Her father, the civil war veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. Several local clergy accepted the idea, and on June 19, 1910, the first Father’s Day sermons honouring fathers were given.
In the 1930s, Dodd started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level supported by tie and tobacco pipe manufacturers. By 1938, she had the help of the Father’s Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers.
In 1966, US President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honouring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was finally made a permanent national holiday in the US when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.
Archive analysis of Father’s Day cards by Clintons, the national gift and card retailer, shows the extent to which dads’ roles have shifted. In 50 years, dads have put on around 15 kilos, and are far less likely to be depicted behind the wheel of speed boats or sports cars or scoring the winning goal on the front of our Father’s Day cards. They are, though, more likely to have a strong emotional connection with their children
According to Clintons’ latest research, there have been five phases of Father’s Day cards in the last 50 years ranging from the formal phase [mid to late-1960s] with a slightly austere dad, sitting in an armchair in a suit and tie, smoking a pipe and reading the paper to the undo-the-tie phase [late 1960s to early 1970s]: characterised by cards that invited dads to abandon the tie for a day of ‘indulgence’. This was followed by The Walter Mitty phase [early 1970s to 1980] with Dads as sporting enthusiasts and then the cute bear phase [early to late 1980s] with softer dads, more approachable and emotional until today where anything goes for today’s dads – ready to be the subject of jokes and more likely to lying on the sofa.
Tim Fairs, a director at Clintons, said: “Dads have always been treated affectionately in cards, but in the last decade we’ve seen reverence replaced with anything goes humour. Some traditionalists might bristle at this, but the reality is that the humour shows how accessible and important dads are to their kids and that’s a cause for celebration.”