Father’s Day originated in the United States in the early 20th century. The first recorded celebration occurred in Fairmont, West Virginia, in 1907, with Grace Golden Clayton, a young woman who had recently lost her father. In the nearby town of Monongah a mining disaster killed 361 people, including 250 fathers, and left over a thousand children fatherless; in response, Grace asked her pastor to give a sermon in celebration of fathers. The celebration was local and quickly forgotten.

Happy fathers day card made by a child

A similar Father’s Day celebration occurred three years later in Spokane, Washington, promoted by a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd. Sonora was the daughter of a civil war veteran who had raised six children as a single parent, and after hearing about recent celebrations of Mother’s Day, she suggested to local pastors that they celebrate fathers as well. Sonora would go on to promote the holiday throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s, enlisting the help of tie and pipe companies who hoped it would become a commercial opportunity. Indeed, even as the holiday began to garner political interest – President Woodrow Wilson traveled to Spokane in 1916 to speak at the celebration – the public remained wary of its potential over-commercialization.

A group of men’s clothing retailers in New York City founded the Father’s Day Council in 1938, seeking formal recognition of the holiday, and were countered by withering attacks in the newspapers. Finally, after several bills seeking its formalization were defeated by the US Congress, a 1966 proclamation by President Lyndon B. Johnson established the holiday, and six years later it was made a permanent national holiday by President Richard Nixon, fixed on the third Sunday of June. Since 1972 Father’s Day has been nationally celebrated.

Most families in Spain take Father’s Day as an opportunity to reward fathers for their hard work. Typically, children will wake their fathers by serving them a nice breakfast in bed. In schools, young children are encouraged to make cards and simple crafted gifts, while older children might go out to buy ties or other traditional men’s clothing items. Wives, too, typically reward their husbands for their work as fathers, often with gifts or favorite home-cooked meals. While Mother’s Day is often one of the most noticeable holiday in Spain, Father’s Day has grown over the decades to become a special day of reflection on the important role that fathers play in our lives.

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