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Why is Father’s Day celebrated on June 16 in the United States?

Half a century ago, Father’s Day was made an official holiday in the US, but it traces its origins back to over a hundred years ago.

Half a century ago, Father’s Day was made an official holiday in the US, but it traces its origins back to over a hundred years ago.
Foto: Cortesía | Google

Father’s Day in the United States is celebrated on the third Sunday of June each year and that means that it will fall on 16 June this year. Although the celebration in many countries is born out of a Catholic tradition, in the United States it is different.

The American tradition actually dates back to 19 June 1910 in Spokane, Washington. It was at that time that the first Father’s Day in the history of the USA was celebrated, the brainchild of Sonora Smart Dodd.

Who was Sonora Smart Dodd, the Father’s Day founder?

Dodd was a woman who, along with her five siblings, had been raised by her single father, a Civil War veteran, after their mother had died in childbirth. It was apparently while attending a Mother’s Day sermon with her father at their local church that Sonora realised there was no equivalent for male parents.

To pay tribute to her beloved father, a proud daughter initiated a new celebration the year after his passing. The YMCA of Spokane and the Ministerial Alliance supported the first Father’s Day. Originally, the daughter wished for the celebration to occur on her father’s birthday, June 5th, but due to planning delays, it was rescheduled to Sunday, June 19th, 1910. To keep the celebration on a Sunday, it was decided that the date would remain on the third Sunday in June for future years.

When was the first national Father’s Day?

In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson granted approval for the celebration of Father’s Day and even made a visit to Spokane to participate in the festivities three years later. The celebration gained popularity across the nation, and in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge expressed his desire to establish Father’s Day as a national holiday.

Although the idea was initially rejected, it took 42 years before Father’s Day became an official celebration. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson declared the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day through a presidential proclamation, and in 1972, President Richard Nixon established it as a permanent national observance.

The holiday is still in place today and is celebrated all across the country. To mark the enormous impact of the celebration, the Dodd family home was added to the Register of Historic Places in 2010, on the 100-year anniversary of that first Father’s Day celebration in Spokane.