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Father’s Day: 100 years of celebration


This year is the 100 year anniversary of Father’s Day celebration. On this day we celebrate and honor our fathers, and all men who have acted as a father figure in our lives, whether as stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, or big brothers. Just like with our mothers, we should love and respect our fathers every day, but having one day to make it more special started 100 years ago. Here’s how Father’s Day started.

A woman named Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington, first proposed the idea of a “father’s day” in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart. William Smart, a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd’s mother) died in childbirth with 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. It was after Mrs. Dodd became an adult that she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent. The first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington. In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day. In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

One hundred years later, the day is observed as a time for family reunion, as children who are staying away from families take time out to celebrate the day with their father.

Just like last month, for Mother’s Day, I wanted to know how other countries celebrate Father’s Day. It seems that in many places, just like with Mother’s Day, we all celebrate it similarly. We give gifts to our dads or any father in the family and spend that day with them. But I also found some differences. Here are some examples.

  • Breakfast meeting for families is a common feature of Father Day celebration in Australia. Various types of games and activities are organized in such Father’s Day get-togethers to strengthen the bond of love between father and a child.
  • People in Canada wear roses to express gratitude for their father. Traditionally, if the person is wearing red rose, it symbolizes the person’s father is alive. Likewise, white rose means that the person’s father is dead.
  • Many people in South Africa go out for picnic, fishing or just for a meal in restaurant. (I wonder how this year is going to be, since the World Cup will be going on at the same time!)
  • The concept of celebrating Father’s Day is very new in India, however, they too celebrate by giving gifts and honoring their fathers.

How are you going to celebrate Father’s Day this year? Do you follow any tradition or do you do something different each year?


photo: iStock