You saw this one coming, yes?! Well, why not? We did have a similar discourse for mothers (and learnt it’s Mother’s Day and not Mothers’ Day) and since everybody has a mother and a father, I though we should dig into that some more – if there’s a day dedicated to fathers and why, and when the day is and why that day was chosen, etc.
The Man who inspired Father’s Day celeberation, single dad, William Jackson Smart
I have fairly fond memories of my father – he died when I was only 16- and I cherish those memories till date. My dad spoilt me rotten and my mum is the one who would keep me on the straight and narrow. I was my parents’ only daughter and, but you would have thought I was only my dad’s daughter.
He took me everywhere and kept telling me I would be the first girl to attend Mfantsipim School (a high school for boys only and of which, he was a proud old boy). And I sure did believe him. My father hardly yelled at me or tried to correct me, so when he did, I knew I had gone too far and that made me cry all the more. I remember him often: on his death day and birthday, and random days too. Be thankful if you still have your very hands-on father around. But I digress.
Origins of the day: So, it is Father’s Day and not Fathers’ Day, to begin with. As it was with Mother’s Day, it was a holiday that was first observed in the USA in 1972 when under President Richard Nixon’s administration, Congress passed an Act. The Act officially made the day a national Holiday. Prior to that in 1966, it was President Lyndon Johnson who signed an Executive Order that the 3rd Sunday in June be observed as the holiday for Father’s Day.
The Women Behind Father’s Day: As it turns out, it was women who thought about celebrating Father’s and mooting the idea – uh huh! Who are these women though? Let’s meet them
- Grace Golden Clayton – she was the daughter of a dedicated minister at the time. She proposed a service to honor all fathers, especially those who had died in Fairmont, West Virginia, on July 5, 1908, after hundreds of men died in the worst mining accident in S. history. However, this observance didn’t become an annual event, probably because it was not promoted beyond the church.
Meanwhile, across the entire country, another woman was inspired to honor fathers…
- Sonora Smart Dodd
Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington in 1909, was inspired by Anna Jarvis and the idea of Mother’s Day. Her father, William Jackson Smart, was a civil war veteran and a single parent who raised Sonora and her five brothers by himself. His wife Ellen died giving birth to their youngest child in 1898. It was while attending a Mother’s Day church service in 1909 that Sonora, then 27 years old, came up with the idea.
Later on, Sonora had convinced the Spokane Ministerial Association to set aside a Sunday in June to celebrate fathers. She proposed June 5, her father’s birthday, but the ministers chose the third Sunday in June so that they would have more time after Mother’s Day (the 2nd Sunday in May) to prepare their sermons. Thus, on June 19, 1910, the first Father’s Day events commence. Sonora delivered presents to handicapped fathers, boys from the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) decorated their lapels with fresh-cut roses (red for living fathers, white for the deceased), and the city’s ministers devoted their homilies, aka sermons, to fatherhood.
In Ghana, I daresay Father’s Day begun being popularly observed from the mid to late 1990s. when private radio stations such as JOY 99.7FM started creating events to observe it. Once that wave washed over us, the churches also cottoned on to it, as did the restaurants and retailers of men’s products.
This year’s Father’s Day falls this Sunday June 20 (3rd Sunday in June; Mother’s Day is 2nd Sunday in May – always). How are you going to appreciate your father or the one who plays a father role in your life?
*parts of information culled from almanac.com