Why did it take so long for Father’s Day to be created?

Unlike Mother’s Day, this was a long struggle

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On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation declaring the second Sunday of each May would be “a public expressions of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country,” also known as, the creation of Mother’s Day.

It took 58 years after that for a similar proclamation to be signed by President Richard Nixon, officially creating Father’s Day.

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President Lyndon Johnson in 1966 made a proclamation to designate the second Sunday of each June as Father’s Day, but it wasn’t a permanent signed celebration until 1972.

So, what on earth took so long for Father’s Day to be a recognized event in the United States?

There are theories abound as to why, according to History.com, from many believing the creation of Father’s Day was just so corporations could sell their products -- to others believing it wasn’t masculine to have a Father’s Day for its gift-giving nature.

In addition, celebrating mothers just seemed to have more sentimental appeal for a lot of people.

The federal government certainly was opposed to the official creation of Father’s Day for the longest time, despite numerous initial attempts to have a Father’s Day established.

In 1908, a church in West Virginia held a Father’s Day observance in honor of the 361 men, 250 of them fathers, who were killed in a coal mining accident.

In 1910, a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd started a Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington, in honor of her father, a single parent who raised six children.

The occasion was celebrated throughout the city, but didn’t seem to spread beyond Spokane.

For decades, Congress rejected attempts to make Father’s Day an official holiday, but slowly, over that time, that sentiment changed as the role of fathers evolved.

After becoming an official holiday in 1972, Father’s Day has become one of the top days of the year to celebrate dads, and has evolved into a billion-dollar industry.

According to the National Retail Federation, roughly $15 billion was spent on Father’s Day in 2018.

No doubt, Father’s Day has come a long way from its surprising decades of resistance.

This story was first published in 2019. It has since been updated.

About the Author

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.

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