Celebrated on the third Sunday of June, Father's Day is your chance to let Pops know just how much you love and appreciate him. Read on to find out more about how the holiday came to be, and a few ways you can celebrate with your old man this year.
The Babylonians are known for their many firsts (like astronomy and a positional numeral system), and they also have been the first to celebrate Father's Day? Present-day scholars have recorded that a young boy named Elmesu carved a message on a card made out of clay nearly 4,000 years ago, wishing his father good health and a long life.
The next appearance of a day for honoring fathers was at a church in Fairmont, W. Va. When Grace Golden Clayton learned of a mining accident that had killed 210 fathers, she worked with the reverend of her local church to organize a memorial for the men who had fallen. The sermon took place on July 5, 1908—the Sunday closest to her late father's birthday.
Since West Virginia didn't officially register the holiday (and since it only took place that one time), Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash., is usually credited with creating Father's Day. As the story goes, during a Mother's Day sermon at her local church, Dodd decided that fathers needed a special day too, including her own father, William Smart, who had raised six children on his own. After a successful petitioning campaign, the city of Spokane agreed to honor fathers on the third Sunday in June.
June 19, 1910, marks the first official Father's Day celebration in the U.S. On that day, members of the Spokane YMCA went to church wearing roses: Red roses honored living fathers, and white roses were in remembrance of the deceased. So while roses come to mind as appropriate Mother's Day gifts, they're actually traditionally associated with Father's Day (and fittingly so, since June is National Rose Month).
Even though Mother's Day caught on quickly, the idea of Father's Day was met with criticism and jokes for not being "manly" enough. However, with Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge's combined previous efforts, President Lyndon B. Johnson was prompted to make an official proclamation in 1966 that designated the third Sunday in June as a national holiday, and in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed the law that made it permanent.
There are an estimated 70.1 million fathers in the United States (according to a national survey in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available). In 2012, an estimated 1.96 million were single fathers.
Total U.S. spending for the holiday should reach almost $13.3 billion this year, with the average American planning to spend about $120 for Father's Day (up from $117 last year), according to a recent survey conducted by the National Retail Federation. Those celebrating will spend $2.5 billion on a special outing, $1.7 billion on a new electronic gadget, $1.8 billion on clothing, and $1.8 billion on gift cards so dad can choose for himself.
With 93 million cards exchanged every year, Father's Day ranks as the fourth largest card-sending occasion. Fifty percent of all Father's Day cards are purchased for fathers, but 15 percent are given to husbands. It makes sense, then, that the two top-selling categories are "Dad From Daughter" and "Dad From Both."