Saturday, June 17, 2023

From the High School Lesson Book - Happy Father's Day!

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Father's Day is hopefully a time when the culture says, "This is our moment to look at who our men and boys are." ~Michael Gurian

Tomorrow is Father's Day in the United States and Canada, and as we celebrate dads, here's a little history about this day.

Father's Day in the western world is relatively new, and wasn't established until well after Mother's Day. I was surprised to find that the first officially proclaimed Father's Day in the US was in the 1960s and it wasn't until the '70s that an annual day was signed into law. 

There are a couple of claims to the first Father's Day celebration, but it's generally agreed that the distinction goes to Fairmont, West Virginia. Grace Golden Clayton suggested it for a memorial service for 362 men that had been killed in a mining explosion in the nearby town of Monangha. The service was held at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopalian Church South on July 5, 1908.

An alternative "first" claim is a celebration held in 1915, suggested by the president of the Lions' Club in Chicago, Harry Meek.

Another important pioneer of the day was Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd. Inspired by a Mother's Day service, she wanted to honor the memory of her father, William Jackson Smart. He was a Civil War veteran who had raised six children on his own after his wife died in childbirth. She'd originally suggested June 5th for the service, that being the anniversary of her father's death. However, because organizers wanted more time to prepare, the service was actually held on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. Mrs. Dodd delivered gifts to handicapped fathers, boys from the YMCA wore roses in their lapels―red roses if their fathers were still living, and white roses if their fathers had passed away―and the ministers in the city preached sermons about fatherhood.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Mother's Day was already established and while there was some interest in a Father's Day as well, there was also a movement to get rid of both days in favor of having Parents Day. Fathers were generally not on board with having their own day anyway, seeing it as sentimental and rather unnecessary. During the Great Depression, however, retailers saw the opportunity to encourage gift purchases for fathers, and promoted gifts of neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, and even sporting equipment that men were less likely to purchase for themselves when money was tight. During the 1940s, Father's Day was used to honor the men who were serving in the Armed Forces overseas. 

President Calvin Coolidge had recommended Father's Day as a national holiday in 1924, but it wasn't until 1966 that it was proclaimed as an official national holiday by President Lyndon Johnson. In 1972 President Richard Nixon signed into law the permanent Father's Day as the third Sunday in June.

Nowadays, the Father's Day weekend is a time to celebrate what Dad likes to do and to focus on the important roles dads play in kids' lives. In the 1920s and 1930s, when fathers weren't generally in favor of having their own day, the family dynamics were different. At that time, men were primarily the providers for the family, working long days away from the home, and women were usually at home doing all the hands-on work of raising the children. In today's families, modern roles are more of a partnership with moms and dads sharing in the responsibilities of caring for children. 

My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it. ~Clarence Budington Kelland

I heard recently that a majority of people say that of their family members, dads are the hardest to buy gifts for. And probably fewer men need the traditional gift of a tie on Father's Day too! Restaurant gift cards, dinner out, a sporting event, and apparel from a favorite sports team are popular gifts. I was also interested to hear that books are popular gifts for dads as well. Overall, Americans spend about one billion dollars of Father's Day gifts annually. About half of all Father's Day cards are purchased by sons and daughters, and about 20 percent are purchased by women to give to their husbands. The rest of the cards purchased are for grandfathers, uncles, brothers, sons, and 'father figures'. 

The power of a dad in a child's life is unmatched. ~Justin Ricklefs

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me. ~Jim Valvano

What about Father's Day celebrations in other parts of the world? In Spain, Portugal, Italy, and many Latin American countries―which are predominantly Catholic―Father's Day is on March 19th. This is the Feast of St. Joseph who is the patron saint of fathers. In Germany, Father's Day is recognized on the same date as Ascension Day. In Scandinavian countries, the day had been celebrated in the 1930s, but in 1949 it was decided that Father's Day should be moved to the second Sunday in November. The idea was to have it halfway through the year from Mother's Day and also to boost the retail economy during a traditionally slow period. Denmark didn't publicize the change, though, so they continued honoring fathers in June. And in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji, Father's Day is on the first Sunday in September.

The importance and value of a loving and godly dad or father figure really can't be overstated. To a certain extent, our concept of God is shaped by our concept of a father, and the Scriptures present God as our Heavenly Father. In the prayer model he gave the disciples, and in his parables and teachings, Jesus consistently showed that God was a loving Father who cared for and provided for his children, and who disciplined and corrected them in both justice and mercy. In today's world, with so many broken families and so much confusion and controversy surrounding the meaning of masculinity and the roles of men, perhaps it's more important than ever that we honor and respect the men that are doing their best to follow the example of God in leading their families. 

And you saw in the wilderness how the LORD your God carried you as a man carries his son all along the way you traveled until you reached this place. 
~Deuteronomy 1:31~

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
~Psalm 103:13~

Give a sincere thank you to our fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, and sons who give so much of themselves to love, guide, protect, and provide for their families. Pray for them and for families.

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.
~Malachi 4:6~

This post will be linked at the Sweet Tea & Friends Monthly Link-up Party hosted by Grace-Filled Moments

Sources for this article include:, Readers Digest

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PaulaShort said...

Kym! I love this. Seeing the photos of your family warmed my heart.
Thank you so very much for sharing this with Sweet Tea & Friends this month sweet friend.

pamela said...

what a lovely post. the photos moved me a lot, loving to know your space.

PaulaShort said...

Kym, this is a favorite post. Love this.
Thanks so much for sharing this heartwarming article with Sweet Tea & Friend's June link up dear friend. I'm so happy your here.

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