Fathers always seem to get second billing. Father's Day follows Mother's Day, and even Children's Day, although no one takes Children's Day seriously except the children. Mother's Day usually means breakfast in bed (a dubious honor), flowers cards and gifts.
Fathers, on their designated day, get ties; hideous dated ties that store owners save up all year and then offer on sale to unsuspecting children. Wives are apt to acknowledge their husbands fulfillment of fatherhood by buying them tools to fix things around the house, then letting them foot the bill. 21th century fathers would much prefer a variety of I-gadgets.
If it weren't for Mrs. John Bruce Dodd of Spokane, Washington fathers might still be a forgotten entity. Dodd suggested venerating fathers to Rev. Conrad Bluhm, president of the Spokane Ministerial Association as a suitable tribute to her own father, who, upon the death of his wife, successfully raised his children.
Her proposal was approved by the Association; the first celebration took place on June 19, 1910 in Spokane. Although the rose is recognized today as the official flower for Father's Day it was originally a lowly dandelion because “the more it is trampled on, the more it grows.” This tongue-in-cheek suggestion reflected the inequality of parenting. Motherhood was revered next to godhood; fatherhood, in this respect, was compared to a common weed.
In 1911, the observance of Father's Day in Chicago came as a novel idea. Jane Addams, the famous social worker, approved the concept, saying “Poor father has been left out in the cold . . . But regardless of his breadwinning proclivities it would be a good thing if he had a day that would mean recognition of him.” Pres. Calvin Coolidge, in 1924, expressed his approval of the idea as he wrote, “As I have indicated heretofore, the widespread observance of this occasion is calculated to establish more intimate relationships between fathers and their children, and also to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”
Fathers of the 21st century participate more in the daily care of their children. In some instances it is voluntary, in others it is necessitated by both parents working, causing the workload and pleasure of childrearing to be shared. Feminist pressure has helped to release the male from stereotyped thought and behavior, making nuclear families more a cooperative than a monarchy.
Before there was widespread observation of this holiday, different sectors of the country celebrated independently in different ways, even different years. The tradition eventually spread throughout most of the Americas and parts of Europe and Asia. A general agreement was settled upon on June 16, 1946, more than 30 years after Mrs. Dodds suggestion. Fathers finally got their day
Both Mother's Day and Father's Day have become “Hallmark Holidays’’ and while florists and confectioners flourish on the second Sunday in May, haberdasher's profit on the third Sunday in June. Commercialism aside, it seems right and fitting that on at least one day of the year fathers receive recognition and tribute from the children who bear their names, their legacies and their love. And what father can’t use another tie?
“Father! To God himself we could not give a holier name”— William Wordsworth