The Importance of Father's Day
Fathers are the unsung heroes of the family unit. In most traditional households, men are viewed as the primary wage earners and the heads of household. Fathers are protectors, disciplinarians, mentors and act as role models for both their sons and daughters.
The symbolic role of a father remains constant. That's why Father's Day is such an important holiday. It isn't a public holiday but is commonly observed on a Sunday. In Australia, Father's Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of September.
In the United States and many other countries, it's celebrated on the third Sunday in June.
Origins of Father's Day
There are many different theories and views as to the true origin of Father's Day. Archaeologists trace the origin of Father's Day back to ancient Babylon where a young boy named Elmesu carved the first known Father's Day message on a clay tablet nearly 4,000 years ago. Was this the first Father's Day card?
Other historians trace the holiday back to ancient pagan rituals which coincide with the Summer solstice. The modern equivalent of Father's Day started in the United States of America. One of the earliest founders was a woman from Spokane, Washington named Sonora Louise Smart Dodd. She wanted to create a day honoring the contributions of fathers to their families. There was already a Mother's Day celebration, so why not a day dedicated to fathers?
Her own mother died during childbirth so Miss Sonora Smart Dodd depended quite heavily on her father for guidance and support. She petitioned the community and with the help of the Spokane Ministerial Association and a local YMCA, the first Father's Day was acknowledged on June 19th 1910. Another early proponent of the holiday was Harry Meek of Chicago, Illinois. In 1915, the Lions' Club of Chicago presented Harry Meek with the first known Father's Day gift of modern times. For his work to promote the holiday, Mr. Meek was given a golden watch with the inscription: "Originator of Father's Day" written on the back. In actuality, there was no single originator of Father's Day. Several individuals participated in the outreach of this much-needed holiday. It wasn't until President Richard Nixon made the holiday a national observance in 1972 that Father's Day became a worldwide phenomenon.
Ways to Celebrate Father's Day
There are no rules to celebrating Father's Day. However, there are some universal traditions and conventions that have lasted over the years. Similar to Elmesu's message to his father in ancient Babylon, most people give their fathers a greeting card with messages of good health and goodwill.
Young children often make their own greeting cards with handmade pictures and personal notes inside. Older offspring and wives usually buy a professionally made greeting card from the store. These cards are often paired with Father's Day gifts. Some common presents include tools, specialty food items and articles of clothing.
The most popular Father's Day gift is the necktie. It's hard to trace the origin of this gift, but the necktie has become the unofficial symbol of the holiday. In the United States, UK and Australia, it's common practice for families to attend Sunday morning church service together, followed by an outing of the father's choice. Most families spend the rest of Fathers Day at Dad's favorite restaurant, entertainment venue, or public park.
Value of Fathers to Their Families
Fathers have an unmistakable role in society, not just the family unit. Father figures have influenced the lives of so many people, encouraging and nurturing them right alongside their maternal counterparts. Father's Day provides families and individuals the opportunity to take notice of the invaluable role that strong male influences play in the development of young minds. It's not always a biological father either. Sometimes that role model can be a minister, a teacher, a step-father, coach or even a hardworking single mother. Fathers come in many different varieties and many people have assorted definitions of a father's role. Universally, a father is one who displays strength and courage in difficult times. A father is one who uplifts and supports dreams and ambitions by showing compassion and undying love. These values have remained constant over the years.
If you are a father, then take a step back from your usual routine. Let your guard down and allow your loved ones to show their appreciation for all the subtle ways you have enriched their lives. Fathers are just as important as mothers to the family unit and Father's Day honors their unique parenting role.
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