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Fathers Day

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Father's Day is a day honoring fathers, celebrated on the third Sunday of June in 52 of the world's countries and on other days elsewhere. It complements Mother's Day, the celebration honoring mothers.

History

Father's Day is a celebration inaugurated in the early twentieth century to complement Mother's Day in celebrating fatherhood and male parenting, and to honor and commemorate fathers and forefathers. Father's Day is celebrated on a variety of dates worldwide and typically involves gift-giving, special dinners to fathers, and family-oriented activities.

The first observance of Father's Day is believed to have been held on July 5, 1908 in a church located in Fairmont, West Virginia, by Dr. Robert Webb of West Virginia at the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South of Fairmont. The church still exists under the name of Central United Methodist Church.

Sonora Smart Dodd of Washington thought independently of the holiday one Sunday in 1909 while listening to a Mother's Day sermon at the Central Methodist Episcopal Church at Spokane, and she arranged a tribute for her father on June 19, 1910. She was the first to solicit the idea of having an official Father's Day observance to honor all fathers.

It took many years to make the holiday official. In spite of support from the YWCA, the YMCA and churches, it ran the risk of disappearing from the calendar. Where Mother's Day was met with enthusiasm, Father's Day was met with laughter. The holiday was gathering attention slowly, but for the wrong reasons. It was the target of much satire, parody and derision, including jokes from the local newspaper Spokesman-Review. Many people saw it as just the first step in filling the calendar with mindless promotions like "Grandparents' Day", "Professional Secretaries' Day", etc., all the way down to "National Clean Your Desk Day."

A bill was introduced in 1913, US President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea in 1924, and a national committee was formed in the 1930s by trade groups in order to legitimize the holiday. It was made a federal holiday when President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation in 1966.

In addition to Father's Day, International Men's Day is celebrated in many countries, most often on November 19.

Commercialization

The Associated Men's Wear Retailers formed a National Father's Day Committee in New York City in the 1930s, which was renamed in 1938 to National Council for the Promotion of Father's Day and incorporated several other trade groups. This council had the goals of legitimizing the holiday in the mind of the people and managing the holiday as a commercial event in a more systematic way, in order to boost the sales during the holiday. This council always had the support of Dodd, who had no problem with the commercialization of the holiday and endorsed several promotions to increase the amount of gifts. In this aspect she can be considered the opposite of Anna Jarvis, who actively opposed all commercialization of Mother's Day.

The merchants recognized the tendency to parody and satirize the holiday, and used it to their benefit by mocking the holiday on the same advertisements where they promoted the gifts for fathers. People felt compelled to buy gifts even though they saw through the commercial façade, and the custom of giving gifts on that day became progressively more accepted. By 1937 the Father's Day Council calculated that only one father in six had received a present on that day.[8] However, by the 1980s, the Council proclaimed that they had achieved their goal: the one-day event had become a three-week commercial event, a "second Christmas". Its executive director explained back in 1949 that, without the coordinated efforts of the Council and of the groups supporting it, the holiday would have disappeared.

Spelling

Although the name of the event is usually understood as a plural possessive (i.e. "day belonging to fathers"), which would under normal English punctuation guidelines be spelled "Fathers' Day", the most common spelling is "Father's Day", as if it were a singular possessive (i.e. "day belonging to Father"). Dodd used the "Fathers' Day" spelling on her original petition for the holiday, but the spelling "Father's Day" was already used in 1913 when a bill was introduced to the US Congress as the first attempt to establish the holiday, and it was still spelled the same way when its creator was commended in 2008 by the U.S. Congress.

International history and traditions

In a few Catholic countries, it is celebrated on the Feast of St. Joseph.

Argentina

Father's Day in Argentina is celebrated on the third Sunday of June, but there have been several attempts to change the date to August 24, to commemorate day in which the "Father of the Nation" José de San Martín became a father.

In 1953 the proposal to celebrate Father's Day in all educational establishments on August 24, in honor of José de San Martín, was raised to the General Direction of Schools of Mendoza Province. The day was celebrated for the first time in 1958, on the third Sunday of June, but it was not included in the school calendars due to pressure from several groups.

Schools in the Mendoza Province continued to celebrate Father's Day on August 24, and, in 1982, the Provincial Governor passed a law declaring Father's Day in the province to be celebrated on that day.

In 2004, several proposals to change the date to August 24 were presented to the Argentine Camara de Diputados as a single, unified project. After being approved, the project was passed to the Senate of Argentina for final review and approval. The Senate changed the proposed new date to the third Sunday of August, and scheduled the project for approval. However, the project was never addressed during the Senate's planned session, which caused its ultimate failure.

Costa Rica

In Costa Rica the Unidad Social Cristiana party presented a bill to change the celebration of the day from the third Sunday of June to 19 March, the day of Saint Joseph. That was in order to give tribute to this saint, who gave name to the capital of the country San José, Costa Rica, and so family heads will be able to celebrate the Father's Day at the same time as the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. The official date is still third Sunday of June.

Germany

In Germany Father's Day is celebrated differently from other parts of the world. There are two terms and/or events of an older origin that while similar in name, have entirely different meanings. Vatertag, is always celebrated on Ascension Day (the Thursday forty days after Easter), which is a federal holiday. Regionally, it is also called men's day, Männertag, or gentlemen's day, Herrentag. It is tradition to do a males-only hiking tour with one or more smaller wagons, Bollerwagen, pulled by manpower. In the wagons are wine or beer (according to region) and traditional regional food, Hausmannskost, which could be Saumagen, Leberwurst (Liverwurst), Blutwurst (Blood Sausage), vegetables, eggs, etc. Many men will use this holiday to get very drunk, to the point of having gangs of drunk people roaming the streets, causing much embarrassment to more conservative German people who don't participate. Police and emergency services are in high alert during the day, and some left-wing and feminist groups have asked for the banning of the holiday.

Some parts of Germany (such as Bavaria and the northern part of Germany) call this particular day "Vatertag", which is the literal equivalent to Father's Day.

Roman Catholic tradition

In the Roman Catholic tradition, Fathers are celebrated on Saint Joseph's Day, commonly called Feast of Saint Joseph, March 19, though in certain countries Father's Day has become a secular celebration.

Singapore

In Singapore, Father's Day is celebrated every third Sunday of June but is not a public holiday.

Taiwan

In Taiwan, Father's Day is not an official holiday, but is widely observed on August 8, the eighth day of the eighth month of the year. In Mandarin Chinese, the pronunciation of the number 8 is bā. This pronunciation is very similar to the character "爸" "bà", which means "Papa" or "father". The Taiwanese, therefore, usually call August 8 by its nickname, "Bābā Day" (爸爸節).

Thailand

In Thailand, Father's Day is set as the birthday of the king. December 5 is the birthday of current king, Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX). Thais celebrate by giving their father or grandfather a Canna flower (Dok put ta ruk sa) which is considered to be a masculine flower. Thai people will wear yellow on this day to show respect for the king. This is because yellow is the Color of the day for Monday, the day on which king Bhumibol Adulyadej was born.

United States of America

In the US, Father's Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. The first modern Father's Day celebration was held on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia or on June 19 of the same year, in the state of Washington. Since then, Father's Day is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of June.

In West Virginia, it was first celebrated as a church service at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church. Grace Golden Clayton, who is believed to have suggested the service to the pastor, is believed to have been inspired to celebrate fathers after the deadly mine explosion in nearby Monongah the prior December. This explosion killed 361 men, many of them fathers and recent immigrants to the United States from Italy. Another possible inspiration for the service was Mothers' Day, which had been celebrated for the first time two months prior in Grafton, West Virginia, a town about 15 miles (24 km) away.

Another driving force behind the establishment of the integration of Father's Day was Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd, born in Creston, Washington. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who reared his six children in Spokane, Washington. She was inspired by Anna Jarvis's efforts to establish Mother's Day. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father's birthday, she did not provide the organizers with enough time to make arrangements, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. The first June Father's Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, WA, at the Spokane YMCA.

Unofficial support from such figures as William Jennings Bryan was immediate and widespread. President Woodrow Wilson was personally feted by his family in 1916. President Calvin Coolidge recommended it as a national holiday in 1924. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson made Father's Day a holiday to be celebrated on the third Sunday of June. The holiday was not officially recognized until 1972, during the presidency of Richard Nixon.

In recent years, retailers have adapted to the holiday by promoting greeting cards and male-oriented gifts such as electronics and tools. Schools and other children's programs commonly have activities to make Father's Day gifts.

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