HISTORY OF FATHERS DAY
[NOTE: I wrote a more extended and more serious version of this article for CBS.com a couple of years ago. It has been published on their network of sites for major cities around the country. You can find an example here.]
Origin of Fathers Day
The celebration of Father’s Day goes back all the way to the beginning, actually to the Garden of Eden when Abel gave his father Adam a razor while his brother Cain gave his father a snake-skin tie. This was the beginning of Cain’s downward slide.
Scholars have debated for ages why Mother’s Day seems to be more honored than Father’s Day. A parallel has been drawn between this phenomenon and that of the difference in popularity between the Irish patron saint and the Italian patron saint.
Fathers Day in the Medieval Period
The noted scholar, Father Guido Sarducci, papal legate and gossip columnist for the Vatican Enquirer, has pointed out that for St. Patrick’s Day, we have lots of festivities, lots of green, celebrations and major parades.
“But for St. Joseph, a very good saint, there is nothing. The only thing he is known for is children’s aspirin.”
Dr. Les Capable of Stanford University confirmed this research by saying, “Ditto.” Professor Illinois Smith of the Department of Redundancy Department at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California, said pretty much the same thing by repeating it over and over again many times in a redundant and repetitive fashion.
It is no accident that in Europe, Catholic tradition places the celebration of Father’s Day on March 19, St. Joseph’s Day, the patron saint of fathers. It is the same in Spanish and Portuguese colonized parts of Latin America.
Renaissance Celebration of Fathers Day
Pope Hallmark first canonized the holiday in 1582 in the Papal Bull entitled Quando Ipso Facto Volare FTD Que Sera Sera, which roughly translated means “When you care enough to send the very best.”
This was confirmed years later in the United States when one of the founding matriarchs, Ma Bell, ordained and established both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in an attempt to help bolster the fledgling nation’s telecommunication coffers. It is well known that Mother’s Day generally posts the highest volume of long-distance telephone calls of any single day of the year. It is not as well known that Father’s Day posts the highest volume of long-distance calls.
Fathers Day in Modern Times
Today, since the early 20th century, it is celebrated mainly by the promotion of the Lions Club. While not the first celebration of its kind, this led to the first presidential proclamation to honor fathers in 1966 by Lyndon B. Johnson. His successor Richard Nixon made it a permanent holiday by signing it into law. The holiday is celebrated on the third Sunday of June to give loving children plenty of time to buy last-minute Father’s Day presents.
Everyone has had a father, but not everyone can be a father. Nevertheless, few challenges in the world are more rewarding than being a father. It is a special joy and a great honor.
As we celebrate Father’s Day, it is noteworthy that the Bible refers to the Almighty as Father.
Children’s children are the crown of old men;
and the glory of children are their fathers
– Proverbs 17:6
How do you celebrate Father’s Day?
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian