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The Importance Of Father’s Day

The Importance Of Father’s Day

By John Smith

There’s an idea about Father’s Day that still gets an airing every so often but really needs to be stamped out once and for all. What is this dated, negative notion? It’s the idea that Father’s Day is a commercial enterprise invented by card shops, gift shops, whiskey distillers and slipper tycoons in a dubious secret conspiracy and that it has no real historical foundation. The kind of person who puts this idea forward will traditionally have no problem at all with Mother’s Day (which is a bit weird). So do they therefore buy mothers, grannies and daughters birthday gifts but not fathers day gifts, granddads and sons? Of course not! Already their argument is beginning to lose strength.

Granted, Father’s Day is not as old as Mothering Sunday or even the “Mother’s Day” that has effectively replaced it. But Father’s Day isn’t as baseless as some think it is, and people are surprised to learn that it actually dates back to early twentieth century America and an enlightened soul called Sonora Smart Dodd (yes, a woman). She reasoned that fathers deserved the same recognition as mothers do and that a day in the church calendar should be set aside for it. But her story was a sad one.

Sonora’s mother died during the birth of her sixth child and so her father William had to raise the girl and her five siblings without any maternal assistance. It was after a Mothering Sunday service that Sonora approached the local ministry to suggest the new celebration, even going so far as to name a date – 5 June, her father’s birthday. The ministry liked the idea, but wanted the celebration to always fall on a Sunday, choosing the third Sunday of June. On 19 June 1910, fathers were finally given their very own day for the first time. Before long, the concept had spread over the whole state and nation, and eventually the world. Now the day is highlighted in every diary, calendar and gift shop window so we have no excuses to miss it!

So after such an auspicious and emotive start, why has it come to represent socks, a four-pack of beer and lingerie-print barbecue aprons? Because that’s what we think dads like, that’s why! While there’s a large number of dads who do appreciate such gifts, it’s certainly not all of them – we should never forget that nude print aprons are preferred by some.

There’s no doubt that Father’s Day gifts will always be part of the celebrations and that the day is no longer seen in a religious context by the majority of people. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aim to trivialise the occasion. We should always remember that dad is a unique person with his own loves, interests and sense of humour, and aim to buy him a Father’s Day gift that is tuned in to his wavelength and reminds him of the original meaning of the day: letting him know he’s the best and taking the opportunity to say a heartfelt thank you for being such a faultless specimen.

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