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, and special dinners to fathers and family-oriented activities. In 2008, it is celebrated on June 15 in most countries. It originated in Spokane, Washington. In 2009, it will be celebrated on June 21 in most countries.
Although normal English punctuation guidelines indicate that the holiday should be spelled “Fathers’ Day” (as it is a plural possessive), common usage dictates that the ostensibly singular possessive “Father’s Day” is the preferred spelling.
International history and traditions
In Germany there is no such thing as Father’s Day as celebrated throughout the western 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, Liverwurst, Blutwurst (Blood Sausage), vegetables, eggs, etc.
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 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 “bà”, which means “Papa” or “father”. The Taiwanese, therefore, usually call August 8 by its nickname, “Bābā Day”
In the United States, the first modern Father’s Day celebration was held on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia or on June 19th of the same year, in the state of Washington. Today, 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, as a single parent 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 male-oriented gifts such as electronics, tools and greeting cards. Schools and other children’s programs commonly have activities to make Father’s Day gifts.
According to IBISWorld, a publisher of business research, Americans are expected to spend at least $11 billion on gifts for Father’s Day in 2008. This is about $7 billion less than the amount spent on Moms for Mother’s Day, which is more steeped in traditional gifts, some of which tend to be more expensive than Father’s Day gifts. In economic terms, the average per capita spending on Father’s Day is expected to be in the range of $27.60 in 2008.
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