While many people believe that Father’s Day is a holiday invented by the fine folks at Hallmark, it’s not so.
The celebration of dad’s special day can most likely be credited to Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington State, who first suggested the idea of the holiday in 1909.
Mrs. Dodd’s father, civil war veteran William Smart, was widowed when his wife died in childbirth with their sixth child. Despite the obvious hardships, Mr. Smart proceeded to raise the newborn along with his five other children, by himself. It wasn’t until Sonora Dodd became an adult that she realised the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.
The original date chosen for the holiday was 5 June, Mr. Smart’s birthday, however the celebration was postponed until 19 June, the third Sunday in June, because there was not enough time to prepare. At about the same time in various towns and cities across America other people were beginning to celebrate a Father’s Day. Some accounts credit Mrs. Charles Clayton of West Virginia, as the founder of Father’s Day, although most histories give credit to Mrs. Dodd.
In early times, wearing flowers was a traditional way of celebrating Father’s Day. Mrs. Dodd favoured the red rose to honour a father still living, while a white flower honoured a deceased dad. J.H. Berringer, who also held Father’s Day celebrations in Washington State as early as 1912, chose a white lilac as the Father’s Day Flower.
In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day, but it never became official until 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson signed the presidential proclamation that set aside the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day.