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How Did Father’s Day Become a Holiday?

Father Alex Padilla, third from left, was the officiant at the May wedding of his son, Alex Jr. and Alyssa last month held in Temecula. From left, Karla, Miguel, Alex, Stella, Alex Jr., Alyssa, and Priscilla Padilla with her son, Leo, and Rafael Nuñez, to her right.

Father’s Day was celebrated for the very first time on June 19, 1910, thanks to the efforts of Sonora Smart Dodd, a woman from Washington who had been raised by a single father. She wanted to establish a holiday to celebrate all of his, and other fathers’ hard work. But, it wasn’t until 1972 – 52 years after Mother’s Day became official – that Father’s Day became a legitimate holiday celebrated throughout the United States.


Historically, Father’s Day was  met with some backlash from men who protested what they perceived as an effort to “domesticate manliness,” and who disapproved of the use of the holiday to sell commercial products. 


In the 1920s and 1930s, a movement promoting the establishment of an overarching Parent’s Day instead of separate Mothers and Fathers days gained traction, with protestors demonstrating yearly in Central Park in New York. But, the movement lost its footing following the Great Depression, in which efforts to sell commercial goods were intensified, as well as following World War II, when the holiday was framed as a way to honor troops and support the war effort.


Ultimately, despite historical controversy, the holiday’s legacy continues to be one of overwhelming love and compassion. It shines a much-needed light on the hardworking fathers of the world who deserve to be appreciated for all that they do for their children.


Today, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June each year. It serves as a welcome reminder of all that our fathers do for us, and creates a space of love and gratitude for meaningful connection to be shared. Fathers, who are often overlooked in terms of parental effort, deserve recognition as much as anyone, and so this day calls attention to all of their many efforts.


Be sure to thank any father figures in your life this June 16, and let them know how much you appreciate their contributions to your life. No matter how you choose to celebrate, it’s important that we ensure that the fathers of the world feel supported and showered with love.

By Gigi Appelbaum-Schwartz

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