Don't Blame Hallmark: How are Co-Parents Celebrating Father's Day?
By Deesha Philyaw on June 15, 2009
I admit to having talked mess about Mother's Day and Father's Day as "Hallmark inventions", over the years. Well, shut my mouth, here's the real deal on Father's Day, from Wikipedia:
Father's Day is a day honoring fathers, celebrated on the third Sunday of June in 52 of the world's countries and on other days elsewhere. It complements Mother's Day, the celebration honoring mothers.
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, special dinners to fathers, and family-oriented activities.
The first observance of Father's Day is believed to have been held on July 5, 1908 in a church located in Fairmont, West Virginia, by Dr. Robert Webb of West Virginia at the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South of Fairmont.  The church still exists under the name of Central United Methodist Church.
Sonora Smart Dodd of Washington thought independently of the holiday one Sunday in 1909 while listening to a Mother's Day sermon at the Central Methodist Episcopal Church at Spokane, and she arranged a tribute for her father on June 19, 1910. She was the first to solicit the idea of having an official Father's Day observance to honor all fathers.
It took many years to make the holiday official. In spite of support from the YWCA, the YMCA and churches, it ran the risk of disappearing from the calendar. Where Mother's Day was met with enthusiasm, Father's Day was met with laughter. The holiday was gathering attention slowly, but for the wrong reasons. It was the target of much satire, parody and derision, including jokes from the local newspaper Spokesman-Review. Many people saw it as just the first step in filling the calendar with mindless promotions like "Grandparents' Day", "Professional Secretaries' Day", etc., all the way down to "National Clean Your Desk Day."
A bill was introduced in 1913, US President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea in 1924, and a national committee was formed in the 1930s by trade groups in order to legitimize the holiday.. It was made a federal holiday when President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation in 1966...
The Associated Men's Wear Retailers formed a National Father's Day Committee in New York City in the 1930s, which was renamed in 1938 to National Council for the Promotion of Father's Day and incorporated several other trade groups. This council had the goals of legitimizing the holiday in the mind of the people and managing the holiday as a commercial event in a more systematic way, in order to boost the sales during the holiday. This council always had the support of Dodd, who had no problem with the commercialization of the holiday and endorsed several promotions to increase the amount of gifts. In this aspect she can be considered the opposite of Anna Jarvis, who actively opposed all commercialization of Mother's Day.
The merchants recognized the tendency to parody and satirize the holiday, and used it to their benefit by mocking the holiday on the same advertisements where they promoted the gifts for fathers. People felt compelled to buy gifts even though they saw through the commercial façade, and the custom of giving gifts on that day became progressively more accepted. By 1937 the Father's Day Council calculated that only one father in six had received a present on that day. However, by the 1980s, the Council proclaimed that they had achieved their goal: the one-day event had become a three-week commercial event, a "second Christmas". Its executive director explained back in 1949 that, without the coordinated efforts of the Council and of the groups supporting it, the holiday would have disappeared (emphasis mine).
So, while Hallmark isn't to blame, there were definitely commercial forces at play. At any rate, despite my snark, I embrace the idea of Father's Day as a special celebration of what we've hopefully expressed the other 364 days of the year: that we appreciate the dads in our and our kids' lives.
In our family, the celebration of Father's Day looks different this year than in past years. Mike and Sherry got married this past Saturday (congratulations!) and will be honeymooning through Father's Day, so the girls and I celebrated Father's Day with him last week. The girls organized a Father's Day Fair complete with mylar balloons, and the old traditional favorites: a homemade volcano; a science experiment (goggles required) involving cans of diet Coke and Mentos; a water gun fight in the front yard; light-saber jousting; do-it-yourself Chipotle tacos; homemade punch; and a cookie-decorating station. You know, the usual...
While Sherry and Mike are away, the girls and I are spending a week with my fiancé and my future stepdaughters. I'm not exactly sure what we'll do to celebrate Father's Day; I'm leaving it up to the girls. No doubt it will be memorable.
How will you and your family celebrate the special dads in your life?
I'm going to wrap this up with a video that never, ever gets old for me:
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