The P Word

Muddling my way through parenting

Father’s Day: more than just an afterthought

You may not have realised it, but this Sunday (17 June) it’s Father’s Day, at least in the UK.

As you might have guessed from my previous posts, this is something I’m quite excited about. Not because I’m expecting  to be surrounded by gifts and have a day of treats and surprises, but because I think it’s REALLY important.

As my own dad is a retired history teacher, perhaps it’s appropriate that I start a mini-series of blog posts about this special day by giving a bit of a background about how Father’s Day came into existence.

To be honest, most of my ‘research’ comes from the dubious source that is Wikipedia, but here’s some kind of brief summary:

  • Just over 100 years ago, an American woman wanted to honour her father, who was a Civil War veteran and single parent who had raised his six children.
  • It was a popular local event, but failed to take-off to any great extent until the 1930s.
  • More official recognition was resisted in some quarters because it was viewed as ‘an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day’.
  • Eventually, in 1966 the US President Lyndon B Johnson officially declared the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.

So, after a few decades of ambivalence, Father’s Day slowly started to gather some significant momentum.

But perhaps the biggest problem with the current perception of Father’s Day is rooted in the tale of its creation.

It only really came into existence because Mother’s Day already existed, so right from the beginning it was riding on the coat-tails of its higher profile and more illustrious counterpart. In one respect, it was just an afterthought.

So has it ever really emerged from the shadow of Mothering Sunday? Is it still only a second-rate celebration?

Perhaps we’ll find out for real on Sunday.


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3 thoughts on “Father’s Day: more than just an afterthought

  1. Not bad coat-tails at least.
    SOmething is incorrect – Wilson was not president in 1966.

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