The history of Father’s Day goes back nearly 4,000 years—way before Dad played football in middle school for a coach that never saw his potential—to a Babylonian kid named Elmesu who carved the first Father’s Day card in clay. (We have no record of how many stamps it must have taken to send it anywhere, but it is reported to have actually existed.)
Of course, people all over the world probably celebrated their dads before and after that in all kinds of ways. But it wasn’t until thousands of years later, in 1909, that things started to get official.
One Sunday, a woman named Sonora Louise Dodd was sitting in church listening to a Mother’s Day sermon about moms. Now, because cell phones had not been invented yet, Sonora had to pay attention. And she got to thinking about her dad William—a widower and Civil War vet who had raised six kids for two decades after the death of his wife.
Clearly her dad was just as celebration-worthy as those moms, she thought. And so the holiday was born!
But it didn’t exactly take the nation by storm. At a time when gender roles were a lot less flexible than they are today, many saw the idea of a day of recognition for Dad that paralleled a “woman’s holiday” as unmanly. Candy and flowers were the typical Mother’s Day gifts, and these were not viewed as “dad stuff.” (I imagine what was thought of as “dad stuff” in their minds was probably limited to things like various meats and beer.)
“Brunch” doesn’t have to mean “boring.” Get Father’s Day off to a deliciously spicy start with a Bloody Mary Bar! Just the fixin's alone are sure to put him (and everyone else) in a celebratory mood.
Thankfully, the idea of Father’s Day slowly and surely began to catch on as progress was made by four American Presidents:
- In 1916, Woodrow Wilson observed the day, and the momentum began.
- In 1924, Calvin Coolidge signed a resolution “to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.” (Kind of judgy but…OK.)
- In 1966, Lyndon Johnson signed an executive order setting an official day: the third Sunday in June.
- In 1972, under Richard Nixon, Congress made it an official holiday in America, which followed in Canada.
But, I suppose you didn’t come here for tons of ancient history. The part about Elmesu and Sonora and the Presidents was probably plenty. So let’s talk for a minute about the history of Father’s Day cards from the perspective of a card writer!