The History of Father’s Day Cards – The first known Father’s Day card was sent by a Babylonian youth named Elmesu nearly 4.000 years ago. His sentiment was made of clay and included a special message wishing his father good health and long life.
Moreover, the premise behind Father’s Day is a lot more modern than one may think. Unlike Mother’s Day, which is a traditional Christian holiday in the UK, known as ‘Mothering Sunday’, Father’s Day took a lot longer to become acknowledged.
The history of Father’s Day began in America and Britain quickly followed suit. Father’s Day is always celebrated on the third Sunday in June and the first-ever Father’s Day happened in 1908 when a West Virginia Church held a special sermon honouring Fathers after 362 men were killed in a mining accident. Parishioners gave out flowers, both red and white, to honour the living and dead, in commemoration of all that our fathers do for us. However, the church community in West Virginia did not celebrate it again. It seemed it was more linked to the mining accident than a serious attempt at a national holiday.
In 1909, a woman called Sonora Smart Dodd made it her mission to set up a national Father’s Day after listening to a Mother’s Day sermon at a church In West Virginia. Sonora’s father (William Jackson Smart) was a widower and Civil War veteran who was both father and mother to his six children for 21 years after the death of his wife. Sonora was upset by the fact that there was a Mother’s Day but no corresponding Father’s Day, so Miss. Dodd petitioned her local community and government to change this. She encouraged local churches to institute a Father’s Day the following year on June 5thwhich was her father’s birthday as a way of honouring him.
Through her efforts, interest in the celebration grew and spread to other cities and states, however, it was never as popular as Mother’s Day. People of the time, especially men, believed that women seemed more sentimental and therefore more appreciative of gifts and expressions of thanks.
This changed during World War II as advertisers grabbed the opportunity to use Father’s Day to promote the troops out on the field. By the time the war was over, Father’s Day was a national institution. In 1972, President Richard Nixon officially declared Father’s Day a national holiday on the third Sunday in June.
Over the years there has been some controversy about the days dedicated to our mothers and fathers. In the 1930s in America, there was a campaign to get rid of both Mother’s Day and the emerging Father’s Day and instead have an all-inclusive Parents Day. This was quickly defeated, mainly because the local economy got a boost from people buying gifts and cards for two separate events.
Depending on where you are in the world, Father’s Day will be celebrated on different dates. Many countries including Spain, Italy and Croatia celebrate Father’s Day on March 19th due to the links with Roman Catholicism that this date has. March 19th is the Feast Day of St. Joseph, husband of Mary and adoptive father to Jesus. This date was traditionally used to celebrate fatherhood as well as spiritual fathers.
In Russia, Father’s Day (known as ‘Defender of the Fatherland Day’) is celebrated on February 23rd. This day was originally created to support the people in the armed services and was made a state holiday in 2002. Now, however, it has incorporated aspects of Father’s Day from around the world.
In Thailand, Father’s Day is celebrated on the 5th of December which was the late King Bhumibol’s birthday, who is seen as the father of Thailand. The country not only remembers him but commemorates fathers everywhere.
A card is one of the staple gifts for Father’s Day. 19 million cards were sent to the UK in 2020 at an average price of £2.01. Cards are a good tangible way of keeping in touch and a small token of appreciation that all dads love. Whether it’s a sentimental or humorous card it is guaranteed to put a smile on any father’s face.