Sunday, 15 June 2014

Father’s Day

I've just been looking up the history of Father's Day, which is actually a rather modern creation.
The History website has the most detailed history of the day. The UK celebration was American in origin, and is held on the 3rd Sunday in June. This is what it says:
"The campaign to celebrate the nation's fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm–perhaps because, as one florist explained, "fathers haven't the same sentimental appeal that mothers have." On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation's first event explicitly in honour of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December's explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday."
"The next year, a Spokane, Washington woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother's Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation's first state-wide Father's Day on July 19, 1910. "
"Slowly, the holiday spread. In 1916, President Wilson honoured the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father's Day.
"However, many men continued to disdain the day. As one historian writes, they "scoffed at the holiday's sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself."
And as a result, the day languished, and it was not until after the Second World War that it became a national institution. As Wikipedia notes:
"In 1966, 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 made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972."
Why did Nixon sign it into law? Was it riding the crest of widespread popular appeal? Or was it an attempt to ingratiate himself with the American people? We shall probably never know. What we do know was that it was signed in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign! Make of that what you will!
It was because of the influenced of the US celebration that Father's Day took off in the UK during the late 1970s.
A few quirky facts about Father's Day from the House to Home website:
In Germany Father's Day is celebrated differently from other parts of the world. Männertag (Men's day) is celebrated by getting drunk with wagons of beer and indulging in regional food. Police and emergency services are in high alert during the day, and some right-wing and feminist groups have asked for the banning of the holiday.
Although there is no evidence of its origin, it is believed that the word "Dad" dates back to as early as the sixteenth century. It is said to come from the first syllables uttered by babies 'pa' plus the kinship suffix 'ter' - accounting for the latin 'Pater', the Spanish 'Padre' and the French 'Pere'. Takes 'baby talk' to a new meaning.
In Thailand, Father's Day is set as the birthday of the king. December 5 is the birthday of current king, Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX). Thais celebrate by giving their father or grandfather a Canna flower (Dok put ta ruk sa) which is considered to be a masculine flower.

No comments: