The longest day of the year comes around on Monday 21st June – but the day before that, Sunday 20th June, is a day that tie makers and sock sellers the world over have come to love almost as much as Christmas. Why is this?
Because it's Father’s Day (at least it is here in the UK; other Father’s Days are also available…)
While the tie vendors and sock merchants rub their hands in glee, fathers, grandads, boyfriends and significant others across the land approach the occasion with trepidation, wondering what monstrosities and items of very dubious taste might be visited upon them in the name of love and celebration.
(Now if you're impatient and can't wait any longer to grab him that more original, creative and inventive gift take a look here...and here, too! You can easily get back here once you're done shopping!))
Born in the USA (cheers, Bruce Springsteen)
Like so many things we now take for granted, Father’s Day was born in the good ole’ US of A; and we owe it all to one woman in Washington state back in 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd.
Mother’s Day had been around for a while, and it seems that made Miss Sonora a bit cross.
Her daddy was a Civil War hero who had raised six children on his own after his wife died in childbirth, and Sonora wanted a special day to honour the other men like him who went above and beyond…
Slow on the uptake – until WW2 came along
Miss Dodd pushed and prodded the right people until the very first official Father’s Day was celebrated in Washington on June 16, 1910. (I like Miss Dodd).
A few other US states picked up on it and it came to be commonly celebrated on the third weekend of June – but for a long time, it was no big deal.
Then along came World War Two – and the advertising men saw an opportunity to mark the contribution of fathers fighting on the front line (and perhaps make a few dollars, too? Surely not?).
Suddenly, Father’s Day became a big deal – a very big deal. By the time the war ended, the day was firmly established and it became fixed in the annual celebrations calendar.
Meanwhile, back in the UK
With the war over and the UK slowly getting back on its feet, all sorts of American influences and habits began to take hold – and Father’s day was one such, although (demonstrating typical British reserve) it was pretty slow to take off on these shores.
Slow, that is, until advertising companies here looked across the pond - and saw for themselves what a spiffingly good money-making opportunity it presented…
Tricky Dicky – and a little re-election ploy
Say Richard Nixon to folk of a certain age and the instant response you get is ‘Watergate’.
But the flamboyant and subsequently disgraced US President can also be remembered for something else – with not a tape, bug or other listening device anywhere to be found. During his re-election campaign in 1972 he declared Father’s Day a US national holiday and signed it into law the same year.
So here we are...
So here we are in 2021 and Father’s Day has taken root, is firmly established, a part of our annual cycle of celebrations of the people we hold most dear.
As I write this there are just two weeks to the day itself, Sunday June 20th, so there is still time for you to show the father or father-figure in your life what he means to you.
Get him a lovely card; tell him how much you think of him. Buy him a gift – but be different; be original; make it personal.
Let's forget about the horrible socks and the terrible ties – surprise him this time around with a unique personalised jigsaw. He might not be able to wear it – but he’ll love it anyway!