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On June 19, 1910, the governor of the U.S. state of Washington proclaimed the nation’s first “Father’s Day.” However, it was not until 1972, 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official, that the day became a nationwide holiday in the United States.
Mother’s Day: Inspiration for Father’s Day
The “Mother’s Day” we celebrate today has its origins in the peace-and-reconciliation campaigns of the post-Civil War era. During the 1860s, at the urging of activist Ann Reeves Jarvis, one divided West Virginia town celebrated “Mother’s Work Days” that brought together the mothers of Confederate and Union soldiers. In 1870, the activist Julia Ward Howe issued a “Mother’s Day Proclamation” calling on a “general congress of women” to “promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, [and] the great and general interests of peace.”
However, Mother’s Day did not become a commercial holiday until 1908, when–inspired by Jarvis’s daughter Anna, who wanted to honor her own mother by making Mother’s Day a national holiday–the John Wanamaker department store in Philadelphia sponsored a service dedicated to mothers in its auditorium. Thanks in large part to this association with retailers, who saw great potential for profit in the holiday, Mother’s Day caught on right away. In 1909, 45 states observed the day, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson approved a resolution that made the second Sunday in May a holiday in honor of “that tender, gentle army, the mothers of America.”
Origins of Father’s Day
The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm–perhaps because, as one florist explained, “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.” On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday. The next year, a Spokane, Washington woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. Slowly, the holiday spread. In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day. However, many men continued to disdain the day. As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”
Father’s Day: Controversy and Commercialism
During the 1920s and 1930s, a movement arose to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day altogether in favor of a single holiday, Parents’ Day. Every year on Mother’s Day, pro-Parents’ Day groups rallied in New York City’s Central Park–a public reminder, said Parents’ Day activist and radio performer Robert Spere, “that both parents should be loved and respected together.” Paradoxically, however, the Depression derailed this effort to combine and de-commercialize the holidays. Struggling retailers and advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men, promoting goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and greeting cards. When World War II began, advertisers began to argue that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war, Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday, but it was a national institution.
In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last. Today, economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.
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Historia del Día del Padre
Conmemorar el amor a los padres una vez al año se ha convertido en algo habitual en nuestro tiempo. A pesar que se celebra el día del Padre con un regalo, esta festividad no tiene un origen comercial para aumentar las ventas en estas fechas como muchos piensan.
El verdadero origen del ‘Día del Padre’ surge el 19 de junio de 1909 en Estados Unidos cuando una mujer llamada Sonora Smart Dodd quiso homenajear a su padre, Henry Jackson Smart. Este veterano de la guerra civil se convirtió en viudo cuando su esposa (la madre de Sonora Smart Dodd) murío en el parto de su sexto hijo. Fue en una granja rural en el estado de Washington donde Henry Jackson se hizo cargo de la educación de seis niños. Sonora Smart se dio cuenta de que su padre había sido todo un ejemplo a seguir y propuso la fecha del nacimiento de su padre, el 19 de junio, para celebrar el Día del Padre.
La idea de instituir un Día del Padre fue acogida con entusiasmo por muchas personas en diversos condados y ciudades, pero no fue hasta 1924 cuando el presidente Calvin Coolidge apoyó la idea de establecer un día nacional del padre. En 1966 el presidente Lyndon Johnson firmó una proclamación que declaraba el tercer domingo de junio como día del padre en Estados Unidos.
Esta festividad se celebra en la mayoría del continente americano el tercer domingo de junio. La fecha cambia en los países de orígen católico, como el caso de España, que se relaciona el Día del Padre con la Festividad de San José, padre de Jesús de Nazaret, que se celebra el 19 de marzo. En esa fecha, la familia se une para celebrar con regalos la labor de los padres y el amor que se les profesa.