The History of Father’s Day

Father’s Day was first celebrated on June 19, 1910, in the state of Washington. It wasn’t until 1972 that it became a nationwide holiday. Mother’s Day, meanwhile, had its origins in the peace-and-reconciliation movements of the post-Civil War era.

“In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C.,” notes History.com. “In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day.”

Not all fathers were on board with Father’s Day. Some “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving,” according to one historian. “Or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”

During the 1920s and 1930s, a group of people campaigned to abolish the individual Mother’s Day and Father’s Day holidays altogether. They wanted a single holiday, Parents’ Day. “Every year on Mother’s Day, pro-Parents’ Day groups rallied in New York City’s Central Park,” notes History.com.

In the postwar era, Father’s Day became associated with appreciating men for their hard work and sacrifice. Finally, in 1972, Richard Nixon made Father’s Day a federal holiday.

And as for the Father’s Day Economy, experts estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on gifts for Dad.

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