Fathers Day - How Did It Start?
25th May 2013
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Father's Day, now celebrated in many countries in the third Sunday of June, got a push start from Mother's Day, but is largely credited to Sonora Smart Dodd from Spokane, Washington.

It was during a Mother's Day church service on June 20, 1909, that Sonora had the idea of creating a special day to honour fathers, too.

Sonora's mother died when Sonora was 16 and she and her 5 brothers and sisters were then brought up by her father. Sonora felt that her father did a wonderful job and because of this love and esteem, Sonoma Smart Dodd believed that her father deserved a special time of recognition just like that given to mothers on Mother's Day.

In 1909, Sonoma Smart Dodd approached the Spokane YMCA and the Spokane Ministerial Alliance and suggested that her father's birthday — June 5 — become a celebration day for Father's Day. Because they wanted more time to prepare, the Ministerial Alliance chose June 19 instead.

The first Father's Day was thus observed in the State of Washington on June 19, 1910. The idea of officially celebrating fatherhood spread quickly across the United States, as more and more states adopted the holiday. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recognized Father's Day as the third Sunday in June of that year and encouraged states to do the same. Congress officially recognized Father's Day in 1956 with the passage of a joint resolution.

Ten years later, in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation calling for the third Sunday in June to be recognized as Father's Day. In 1972, President Richard Nixon permanently established the observance of the third Sunday in June as Father's Day in the United States.

This then spread slowly across the Atlantic and other countries adopted it too.

Sonora Smart Dodd lived to see her idea come to fruition. She died in 1978 aged 96.

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Helen I

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