History

// Why we celebrate this day...

On the third Sunday of June, American families gather to celebrate their fathers and grandfathers. Father's Day is a day of parent appreciation and gratitude, much like Mother's Day. A relatively new holiday, Father's Day has evolved into major event for both families and retailers. Nations around the globe have declared Father's Day an official holiday.

Father's Day was introduced into American culture by Sonora Dodd in 1910. The idea for the holiday struck her while listening to a Mother's Day sermon in the Central Methodist Episcopal Church in Spokane, Washington. Having been raised by her father, Dodd felt male parents deserved an equal day of recognition. Dodd held a special admiration for her own father who single-handedly cared for her and her six sisters after her mother died in childbirth. In 1910, Dodd asked the Spokane Ministerial Alliance to recognize her father's birthday (June 5) as a day to celebrate fatherhood. The Alliance settled on the third Sunday of the month. While Father's Day was widely recognized in Spokane and gained support from the YMCA and YWCA, it took decades for the holiday to catch on nationwide. The general public viewed Father's Day as another meaningless holiday to fill up the calendar. Over the years, it gained recognition from such political figures as William Jennings Bryan, Woodrow Wilson, and Calvin Coolidge. In 1966, Lyndon Johnson publicly announced that Father's Day would take place on the third Sunday of June. It was not until 1972 that Richard Nixon authorized Father's Day as an official American holiday.

In the United States, Father's Day is celebrated with the exchange of gifts and greeting cards. Since the holiday occurs during the warm month of June, many families plan outdoor cookouts and barbecues or attend sporting events. Some families also choose to go out to dinner. While Father's Day is normally a family event, some fathers use it as an excuse to spend time with their sons, brothers, or friends. Similar customs are celebrated in 52 countries around the world, from the United Kingdom to New Zealand. The majority of countries celebrate Father's Day during the May and June months.

Retailers began pushing the commercialization of Father's Day in the 1930's. The Associated Men's Wear Retailers was the first group to market the holiday, forming the National Father's Day Committee and the National Council for the Promotion of Father's Day. Without the unerring support of these groups, Father's Day may have never been accepted by the American public. In the 1980s, retailers' efforts finally paid off and significant revenue was earned.

Today, large retailers like Wal-mart, Best Buy, Target, and Sears hold official Father's Day sales, discounting high-tech gadgets, tools, grills, golf gear, and men's clothing. They begin advertising the sales immediately after Mother's Day, giving consumers over a month to decide on the perfect gift. The retailers advertise by releasing television and radio commercials, distributing flyers, and sending promotional emails. Father's Day is more lucrative than Mother's Day as a wider range of merchandise is sold. Most retail stores set up designated “Father's Day” departments stocked with gift ideas such as DVDs, CDs, electronics, and sports gear.