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Father’s Day has surprisingly uncertain parentage

Column by John Akal
Posted 6/13/18

I guess you know that Summer is almost officially here when Father’s Day shows up on the calendar. The Summer Solstice hits on June 21, and Father’s Day is always on the third Sunday in June, so …

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avenue flashes

Father’s Day has surprisingly uncertain parentage

Posted

I guess you know that Summer is almost officially here when Father’s Day shows up on the calendar. The Summer Solstice hits on June 21, and Father’s Day is always on the third Sunday in June, so they are always just a few days apart. This year we honor our dads on Sunday, June 17.

Father’s Day is one of those holidays we all know exists but most of us don’t really know when it started or any of the history of it. It’s not like the Fourth of July when something significant happened to mark the day, no one was born in a manger and there isn’t a bunny hopping around delivering colored eggs and chocolate. It just sort of happens and we all run out and buy cards and gifts.

So how did all of this get started? Well to begin with, Father’s Day is not a uniquely American observance. Many other countries have one and some of them are observed on the third Sunday in June, but it varies from country to country. But from what I can determine by searching through it’s history, it pretty much started here in the good old USA.

As you may have guessed it came about after Mother’s Day was established. That has it’s own history and thankfully, because I only have a limited space here, Father’s Day’s history is a lot simpler. Basically a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd thought that there should be a comparable day on the calendar to honor the paternal half of the parental equation. That’s a fancy way of saying somebody noticed that dad’s were kind of left out of being honored as much as moms. So apparently Ms. Dodd got the ball rolling and the first Father’s Day was celebrated in June of 1910 in Spokane Washington here in the United States.

Wait, no that’s just on one website. There’s another one that says Father’s Day has actually been celebrated in Catholic Europe on March 19 which is also St. Joseph’s Day and was brought first to Latin America by the Spanish and Portuguese and then worked it’s way northward.

Oh jeez … here’s one that says Father’s Day is celebrated in China on August 8th which was picked because that would be the eighth day (“ba” means 8 in Chinese) of the eighth month (another “ba”) which gives you two eights which would be “ba-ba” in Chinese and sounds similar to the colloquial word for “daddy.”

Oh no … there’s a website that says it was started in France by a company that makes cigarette lighters as a way of marketing the things as gifts. OK, maybe it’s not as simple an explanation as I thought it was going to be.

Meanwhile back in the USA, after Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge as well as a few congressional attempts tried and failed to designate it as a national holiday it was President Lyndon Johnson that actually officially proclaimed the third Sunday in June as the date for Father’s Day in 1966 and President Richard Nixon made it a permanent national holiday and signed it into law in 1972.

So there you go. It’s an official national holiday so you can go out and buy those cards and gifts with a clear conscience knowing that you aren’t just caving into the blatant commercial exploitation of fathers everywhere. Unless you buy one of those lighters from France.

Now that we have that all cleared up, here’s a fun place to take your dad this Sunday. The Colorado Railroad Museum is offering free general admission to all dads for the day. I don’t know how they actually determine if someone is a dad or not, so maybe bring along some pictures of your kids … or the neighbors kids. Once there Dad can tour the historic railroad equipment in the rail yard, see the exhibits in the Museum Depot Building and take a peek inside the roundhouse to view the progress as Museum crews restore equipment. You will also have the option to buy him a ticket to ride behind a historic Denver & Rio Grande Western Steam Locomotive

The Colorado Railroad Museum is located at 17155 W. 44th Ave. and open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multi-media production. He can be reached at jaimaging@aol.com

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