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What is the History of Father's Day?

President Nixon declared the third Sunday in June to be Father's Day.
Father's Day celebrates the role of fathers in their children's lives.
President Lyndon Johnson made Father's Day an official national holiday.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
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  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2014
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Father's Day is a holiday celebrated in many nations around the world. The intent is to celebrate fathers and fatherhood, acknowledging the role that fathers play in many people's lives. The precise history of Father's Day ranges from nation to nation, but it is generally celebrated in the summer months, commonly in June. Customarily, family members give presents to their fathers, take them out to dinner, or recognize them in some other way.

As a general rule, Father's Day is a secular holiday, although some religious leaders may incorporate fatherhood into their sermons. In heavily Roman Catholic countries, Father's Day is held on the 19th of March, St. Joseph's Day, although celebrations are not restricted to Catholics. Some countries view the holiday as an opportunity for a picnic and hike, in which celebrants load up packs with an assortment of foods and spend the day in nature.

In the United States, along with many other nations, Father's Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. The idea of a day to commemorate fathers originated in the mid-1800s, but the day varied from place to place. In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd was listening to a Mother's Day service in her church when her thoughts turned to her father, who raised her family alone after her mother passed away. She approached church officials about holding a similar service for fathers, and in 1910, the church celebrated Father's Day in mid-June.

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Support for Father's Day grew across the United States, and it was officially declared a holiday in 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson. In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a bill into law which decreed the third Sunday in June for Father's Day celebrations. Other nations around the world have set dates for Father's Day which range from late February to November. In all of the nations which celebrate Father's Day, the intent of the holiday remains the same.

Although Father's Day is intended to be a complement to Mother's Day, the holiday is not as popular as Mother's Day in most areas where it is celebrated. Family members certainly do not spend as much money on Father's Day as they do on other holidays, and people sometimes struggle with appropriate gifts. Children living with their fathers might consider making a special meal to honor their fathers, while fathers are usually glad to hear from children living away from home, either with a phone call or a letter.

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Drentel
Post 3

Animandel - I am guilty of buying a few of those awful ties, but I soon learned that the best present I could ever give my father was my time. So we usually do dinner and a ballgame or movie on Father's Day now.

Animandel
Post 2

A show of hands, who out there has not given his or her father at least one outrageously hideous tie for Father's Day?

Drentel
Post 1

Not knowing the history of Father's Day, I had no idea the holiday had been around for so long. I assumed it was another one of those recently created, commercially driven holidays like Valentine's Day. Either way, I always get my dad one of those cool Father's Day cards.

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