The one common element that brings all humanity together is our lineage. No matter what race or background, everyone has parents, even if they never knew them, or they weren’t raised by them. And for those whose biological fathers are unfortunately not a part of their lives, many can say they have someone who was like a father to them.
Fathers at their best provide for us, give us opportunities, care for us, teach us what is desirable and what to avoid, show us what to fight for and what to fight against, give us courage, defend us in our time of need, and ultimately prepare us to venture out into the world on our own. But a father is much more than what he can do or has done for us. Our father is our Dad. Whoever Dad is for you, celebrate him properly for who he is.
Celebrating fatherhood on a particular day is a tradition which dates as far back as the 5th century A.D. On the second Sunday before Christmas, the Catholic Church in Greece celebrated the Sunday of the Forefathers, honoring the paternal lineage of Christ, as well as the paternal lineage of other holy figures like Mary and the prophets. This was the proto-fathers day which would eventually make itself to Catholicism in Europe.
In the Catholic European countries, Father’s Day was celebrated at least as early as the 14th century on March 19th, the feast day of Saint Joseph. On this day, Christians would celebrate both the fatherhood of Saint Joseph as well as that of their own fathers. Countries such as Spain and Portugal still celebrate Father’s Day publicly on this day.
In America the tradition of having a day to celebrate fathers came about because of the actions of Sonora Smart Dodd. She first started celebrating Father’s Day for her father, a single parent and civil war veteran who raised six kids on his own. This celebration, which Sonora started at the YMCA in Spokane, Washington eventually gained popularity around the country.
Many businesses wanted to commercialize the holiday in a similar way to how Mother’s Day had been commercialized, and because of this there was a lot of push back to the holiday becoming nationally recognized.But, in 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson recognized the holiday and designated the third Sunday in June to be Father’s Day. Six years later it was signed into law by Richard Nixon and thus made a permanent national holiday.
The commercialization of Father’s Day that many Americans feared in the mid 20th century has certainly come about. Every year around mid June, a torrent of grill gifts and Dad tchotchkes inevitably appear. And although giving gifts is a legitimate and good way to show your appreciation for someone, this Father’s Day, go beyond these products alone.
Many fathers will agree that the greatest work of their life is their children. Bringing a new, unique, unrepeatable human into the world is a humbling and rewarding experience. Raising those children turns them into a reflection of the parents in many ways, the good as well as the bad. Not only are they the biological fruit of the mother and father, but they are also psychologically and emotionally the fruit of their parents.
The father plays a special role in the upbringing of children. It is often the father who will give the child the moral framework they are likely to carry for the rest of their life. It is often he who will provide opportunities for them that will influence where they live, what profession they are likely to take, who they will marry, etc. Our fathers shape us in ways that we will never be able to repay, how can we respond but with gratitude.
Fathers give us life. Plain and simple. Without our biological father we have no life. And without the man who raised us, if we are fortunate enough to have one, we would not be the person we are today. So take this day to appreciate the best of your father. Remember the rich history that surrounds this day, and offer up to your Dad your love and gratitude, the best gifts from his greatest work.