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Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. In Catholic Europe, it has been celebrated on March 19 (St. Joseph’s Day) since the Middle Ages. This celebration was brought by the Spanish and Portuguese to Latin America, where March 19 is often still used for it, though many countries in Europe and the Americas have adopted the U.S. date, which is the third Sunday of June. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March, April and June. It complements similar celebrations honoring family members, such as Mother’s Day, Siblings Day, and Grandparents’ Day.

History and traditions

Early history

A customary day for the celebration of fatherhood in Catholic Europe is known to date back to at least the Middle Ages, and it is observed on 19 March, as the feast day of Saint Joseph, who is referred to as the fatherly Nutritor Domini (“Nourisher of the Lord”) in Catholicism and “the putative father of Jesus” in southern European tradition. This celebration was brought to the Americas by the Spanish and Portuguese, and in Latin America, Mother’s Day is still celebrated on 19 March. The Catholic Church actively supported the custom of a celebration of fatherhood on St. Joseph’s day from either the last years of the 14th century or from the early 15th centuryEmily, Jan (2015), Fathers Day Celebration., apparently on the initiative of the FranciscansPeter, Kirwin, Happy Father’s Day From This Father To All Fathers.

In the Coptic Church, the celebration of fatherhood is also observed on St Joseph’s Day, but the Copts observe this celebration on July 20. This Coptic celebration may date back to the fifth century.Emily, Jan, Father’s Day Celebration.

In the United States

Beginnings

Father’s Day was not celebrated in the US, outside Catholic traditions, until the 20th century. As a civic celebration in the US, it was inaugurated in the early 20th century to complement Mother’s Day by celebrating fathers and male parenting.

After Anna Jarvis’ successful promotion of Mother’s Day in Grafton, West Virginia, the first observance of a “Father’s Day” was held on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia, in the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church. Grace Golden Clayton was mourning the loss of her father, when in December 1907, the Monongah Mining Disaster in nearby Monongah killed 361 men, 250 of them fathers, leaving around a thousand fatherless children. Clayton suggested that her pastor Robert Thomas Webb honor all those fathers.

Clayton’s event did not have repercussions outside Fairmont for several reasons, among them: the city was overwhelmed by other events, the celebration was never promoted outside the town itself and no proclamation of it was made by the city council. Also, two events overshadowed this event: the celebration of Independence Day July 4, 1908, with 12,000 attendants and several shows including a hot air balloon event, which took over the headlines in the following days, and the death of a 16-year-old girl on July 4. The local church and council were overwhelmed and they did not even think of promoting the event, and it was not celebrated again for many years. The original sermon was not reproduced by the press and it was lost. Finally, Clayton was a quiet person, who never promoted the event and never talked to other persons about it.

 

 

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