This Sunday, June 19, we celebrate once again Father’s Day, a holiday to celebrate the role of dads everywhere. We have been celebrating it since we have a memory, but there are a lot of things we do not know about this day.
The origin of the holiday
As in many other things, the origins of the celebration of the Father’s Day are not that clear. The first theory goes back to 1908, where Grace Golden Clayton asked the Church in West Virginia to honor fathers in a special event, after a mining disaster that killed more than 300 men.
The second and most popular theory, states that were Sonora Dodd, the women who created the first Father’s Day. She was from Spokane, a county in Washington, and she and her five siblings were raised by their father. Being raised by a single father was quite uncommon in 1910, so she started the petition to create an event to recognize a day to celebrate fathers.
Finally, in 1913, a bill signed by the Congress recognized the holiday, stating that Father’s Day would be the third Sunday in June. In 1972, Richard Nixon signed the bill (that was later a presidential proclamation) into law. The day was finally recognized in American legislation and from that moment we have been celebrating the holiday.
The Father’s Day best friend: Neckties’ industry
Once the creation of the holiday was being discussed, a fast friend of the idea appeared: The neckties’ industry. People who sold neckties sponsored the idea since they saw an opportunity to increase their sales.
Initially, the idea of the celebration of the Father’s Day was not very appealing to fathers. There was a trend to consider that the parents did not want the commemorating day since they were the ones “to pay the bills.”
For a long time, it was thought that Father’s Day would disappear. But in 1936, the New York Associated Menswear Retailers created a Father’s Day Committee, an entity that saved Father’s Day from extinction. They became the National Council for the Promotion of Father’s Day and the whole initiative was the corporate response to a decreasing index in sales of menswear.
A lot of activities were planned by the National Council to increase interest in the holiday. Parades, games, and competitions (including the selection of the Father of the Year) were among the ideas executed by those groups to make Father’s Day more popular each year.
The mission was accomplished since there was a considerable increase in menswear sales, but promotion kept going for many years. Today, the holiday is a big commercial event.
— National Geographic (@NatGeo) June 18, 2016
Father’s Day and not Fathers’ Day
The explanation in the grammar is related to the actual meaning of the celebration. Once we put the apostrophe before the S, we are stating that the day belongs to each father and not to parents as a community. The goal in the celebration is to commemorate each father as a unique role model in every family or as a hero when he raises a family on his own.
But there are not as many single fathers as there are single mothers, according to the Census Bureau, which stated in 2015 that there were about 2 million single parents versus 10 million single mothers. That may be the explanation of why Mother’s Day is way bigger than Father’s Day as a holiday.
The index published by the National Retail Federation stated that Mother’s Day involves around $22 billion in spending versus the $14 billion Father’s-Day-related sales. The Federation also shared graphics to show how is money getting spent during Father’s Day shopping.
However, Dodds, the founder, stated something that described the emotion behind the industrial interests: “Don’t you think fathers deserve a place in the sun, too?”