By Patrick D. Bonin
Believe it or not, Father’s Day has only been an official national holiday in the United States since Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972. (Considering Mother’s Day became official in 1914, I think men are probably due some bonus ties, tools and grilling accessories to make up for lost time!)
Credit for the modern holiday is given to Sonora Dodd, who founded Father’s Day in Spokane, Washington at a YMCA in 1910. But it didn’t have much success initially, and many Americans resisted the holiday for several decades because it was perceived as an attempt by merchants to cash in on the commercial success of Mother’s Day.
Several presidents, including Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge attempted to get the day officially observed by the nation, but it never happened. Finally, in 1966, Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers on the third Sunday in June, and Nixon made it permanent six years later.
In the United States, it is always celebrated on the third Sunday of June, although it is celebrated on a wide variety of days throughout the world.
In Australia, it is celebrated on the first Sunday of September, which is the first Sunday of spring, but it isn’t a national holiday. In Brazil, fathers are honored three months after Mother’s Day, on the second Sunday of August.
In Germany, the holiday is a bit different than in other countries. Vatertag (Father’s Day) is always celebrated on Ascension Day (the Thursday 40 days after Easter.) Groups of men do a hiking tour pulling one or more small wagons loaded with beer, wine and other regional food. Many people take the following Friday off of work, and many schools are also closed, resulting in a four-day weekend perfect for short vacations.
Interestingly, Father’s Day in the U.S. is the busiest day of the year for collect calls. More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day, but the percentage of collect calls on Father’s Day is much higher!
So if you can, spend some quality time with your Dad… Tools and electronics are much appreciated, but pass on the socks and ties. And please, don’t call him collect!