5 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Father's Day

Happy Father's Day, folks! Today the country will be celebrating Father's Day, which was officially designated a national holiday in 1972 by President Richard Nixon. Here are five surprising facts you probably didn't know about Father's Day.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Idea for Father’s Day Was Conceived by a Mother Sonora Smart Dodd first recognized a special day for fathers to celebrate her own dad, who had raised six children as a single parent. The idea came to her in 1909 as she listened to a church sermon on Mother’s Day. She decided she wanted to designate a day for her dad , William Jackson Smart. The following year, Dodd wanted to celebrate Father's Day on June 5th, her father's birthday, and petitioned for the holiday to be recognized in her city. Needing more time to arrange the festivities, Spokane’s mayor pushed the date back by two weeks, and the first Father's Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, according to the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitor Bureau. But it wasn’t for many years that it became an officially recognized holiday. 

The Oldest Father’s Day Card Is 4,000 Years Old Father’s Day cards go farther back than Hallmark. A clay tablet from ancient Babylon that is 4,000 years old is the world’s earliest “Father’s Day” card and was written by a young boy whose name was Elmesu. On it, Elmesu wished his father "good health and long life".

ADVERTISEMENT

Father’s Day Wasn't Officially Recognized as a National Holiday Until 1972 The road to declaring a nationally-honored Father’s Day was a long one, spanning over 60 years. President Calvin Coolidge supported the holiday but did not make a proclamation. President Woodrow Wilson spoke at a Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington, but Congress resisted making the holiday official out of fear it would become commercialized. President Lyndon B. Johnson was the one who declared the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day, though it was not yet made a permanent national holiday.  It wasn't until President Richard Nixon signed Public Law 92-278 that Father's Day was permanently recognized by the federal government.

There Was a Movement to Combine Father’s and Mother’s Day There was a movement to combine both Father’s Day and Mother’s Day to create one holiday called Parents’ Day during the ‘20s and ‘30s, complete with rallies in support of the idea. Advertisers and retail merchants objected to combining the days because it might affect sales, and the idea was dropped with the Great Depression. Instead of combining the two holidays, Parents’ Day was added as an additional day to honor both mothers and fathers in 1994 by President Bill Clinton.

Americans Are Expected To Spend $15 Billion On Gifts Father’s Day is the fourth most popular card-sending holiday in the U.S. behind Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day. Over 72 million cards are sent out on this special holiday to say “I love you!” This year, Americans are expected to spend over $15 billion on Father’s Day gifts, approximately $133 per person. The National Retail Foundation reports this money will be spent mostly on clothing ($2.2 billion), gift cards ($2.1 billion), and electronics (1.8 billion).