The struggle for a day for dads

All over the world, people have a unique and special relationship with their old man. Some good, some not so much, but unique all in their own way.

Reflective about the fact that Father’s Day is here in Australia, it got me pondering about the history of a day dedicated to our dads. Was it just for companies to make profits by creating another consumer holiday, or is it more profound than that?

Although many people argue that the tradition can be traced back to St Joseph’s day on the 19th of March,  the idea of gift giving for Father’s day originated in none other than the USA, where it was first introduced as a day to celebrate, you guessed it, our dads.

A modern Father’s Day

The first nod towards a modern Father’s Day coming into existence was in 1908, a year after the Monongah mining disaster occurred killing 361 men, 250 of them fathers. A church service was held commemorating their deaths and honouring the fathers who had had their lives so tragically taken away from them.

Sonora Dodd understood the importance in this and decided that it would be a rather good idea to have a day where she could celebrate her dad and all that he had done for her. Her dad was a farmer, a veteran from the Civil War and also a widower who raised 6 kids all on his own.

It wasn’t just Dodd who admired this idea, as it was eventually taken up by her local church. Finally on June 19, 1910 the first ever Father’s Day was celebrated in Spokane, Washington.

Dodd also understood that the commercialisation of Father’s Day would be necessary in order for it be widely accepted. Clothing manufacturers, tobacco salesmen and other hungry businesspeople were seduced, dollar signs appearing in their eyes as they pictured the fortune that could be made.

Eventually, more than 60 years after Dodd had got the backing from the churches in Spokane, the third Sunday of June was permanently authorised as a national holiday by the US government and the president at the time, Richard Nixon.

Why is it celebrated in September in Australia?

The first mention of Father’s Day in Australia was on September 4, 1936, in the Newcastle Sun. The article stated that it hoped that Father’s Day could be as popular as Mother’s Day. 

There’s a lot of disagreement about the placement of Father’s Day on this particular date in Australia, but the most widely accepted theory is that it was placed there for commercial gain.

As we know, September is right at the beginning of Spring, just when it starts to warm up again. Some people think that Father’s Day has been placed like so as it’s the beginning of the season where sports, fishing and other outdoorsy hobbies will be picked up again.

Is there a more perfect time to buy a new golf club, a new rod or a cosy new tent?

Another theory is that it is placed on the 2nd September as it is right in the middle between Mother’s Day and Christmas. From April to June in Australia, the calendar is jam packed with different commercial events, which may lead people to get what some analysts call ‘holiday fatigue,’ where people get tired of being bombarded with offers over and over again.

If I was being slammed with spam mail about Christmas four months before the date, I’d throw my computer of the window, my phone would be flushed down the toilet and I’d go to live in a forest.

It’s a busy time with the Easter long weekend, Anzac Day (link) and Queen Elizabeth’s Birthday. Mother’s Day is celebrated on May 12th (around the same time as it is in USA and UK) – that’s a heck of a lot of spending.

Remembering Our Old Men

Nonetheless, Father’s Day is one of the best opportunities we have in the our busy calendars to show dad how much he’s appreciated. Dads can often be men of few words, but the little he does say can mean so much for someone who loves him.

So, while dad is trying on his new tie, sipping on his cup of tea and eating his buttered toast this morning, let him know about Sonora Dodd and just where the inspiration came from for Father’s Day.

And, if you, like me, are more of the belated gift type of person, you can check out our solution for a beautifully personalised Father’s Day present here.

Happy Father’s Day!

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