2017-06-15 / Front Page

Father’s Day was a late edition to the index of federal holidays

While everyone knows how important the loving, hardworking caregiver that dad is, he didn’t get an official holiday until 1972, when President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a legitimate federal holiday.

Although Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge both held honorary ceremonies and urged the country to celebrate dad throughout their terms, most of the well-deserving Ward Cleavers out there missed out on a nationally instated tie-giving holiday until its official declaration.

Reports of practicing Catholics spread across Europe, however, had been celebrating a type of father’s day since the middle ages in honor of Saint Joseph, who was considered “the nourisher of the Lord.” It seems that that was one tradition that didn’t make it to American soil.

Even mom had her own celebra­tion officially instated around the turn of the century. It was recognized prior thanks to activist Ann Reeves Jarvis who, in the 1860s, was set on bringing together mothers of both union and confederate soldiers in a small West Virginian town.

“However, Mother’s Day did not become a commercial holiday until 1908, when –inspired by Jarvis’ daughter, Anna Jarvis, who wanted to honor her own mother by making Mother’s Day a national holiday – the John Wanamaker department store in Philadelphia sponsored a service dedicated to mothers in its auditorium,” according to History.com.

Further reports from History.com have recorded that Father’s Day struggled as a holiday for lack of a tender aspect, supposedly. “Thanks in large part to this association with retailers, who saw great potential for profit in the holiday, Mother’s Day caught on right away. In 1909, 45 states observed the day, and in 1914, President Wilson approved a resolu­tion that made the second Sunday in May a holiday in honor of ‘that tender, gentle army, the mothers of America.’”

The idea of a national Father’s Day, apparently, didn’t quite have the marketing stilt that the retailers were after, because one florist recog­nized by History.com believed that “fathers haven.’.t .the .same..sentimen­tal .. appeal that mothers have.”

This thought, all in the name of commercialism, seems to water down what should be a loving com­memoration at the heart of either movement to celebrate mom and dad.

Regardless, dad still didn’t get his own holiday some 58 years after mom did.

Today, according to a United States census report, there are over 70 million fathers in the country, a number that has surely increased since the 1970s.

Despite this holiday being steeped in retail capitalism, as a new market emerged from the official instate­ment of Father’s Day – with billions of dollars currently being spent every year on dad – it doesn’t dis­miss the fact that countless children everywhere want to take advantage of a day where they can show love and appreciation for their fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and whomever else.

Father’s Day is considered by many a grand opportunity for chil­dren to express their affection – whether it be with a new grill, the stereotypical necktie, or a simple greeting card and peck on the cheek – how the sentiment is conveyed is irrelevant. The root of the celebra­tion is still steeped in wanting dad to know that he’s loved very, very much.

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