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Father’s Day History and Famous Fathers

Updated on February 22, 2012
Where it all began ... supposedly
Where it all began ... supposedly

Father’s Day History and Famous Fathers

Here is the history of Father’s Day, and some interesting information you may not know about famous fathers I know you know. And a very funny video to make your day!

History of Father’s Day

Just as I researched the origin of Mother’s Day (see link way below), I decided to do the same for Father’s Day. After copious and diligent research, here are the results:

1 – The practice of honoring one’s father may have begun about 4,000 years ago … more or less.

2 – It happened in Babylonia (now Iraq) … perhaps. A particularly apt location, don’t you agree? A father. A baby-lonia. So, what if that is a bit of a stretch?

3 – A young child named Elmusu or Elm usu or El musu depending on the source you read, gave his father the first Father’s Day message that we are aware of. His father’s name? Why “Father,” of course.

4 – The Father’s Day message? Good health and a long life … we think.

5 – We do know that Elmusu a/k/a his other spellings carved his Father’s Day message on a mud clay tablet. There were no pencils then. No pen. No paper. Not even crayons. What happened to Elmusu? No one knows. What happened to his father? Ditto. What happened to the clay tablet message? Ditto.

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection.” – Sigmund Freud

Sonora Smart Dodd
Sonora Smart Dodd

Genuine History of Father's Day

Now here is what we do know about the more recent and verifiable history of Father’s Day.

Father’s Day was invented so the manufacturers of greeting cards would have another holiday besides Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day to sell us greeting cards. No, not true. The idea for such a holiday began with a real person. It was a woman named Sonora Smart (Mrs. John B.) Dodd who is also known as the Mother of Father’s Day.

Sonora lived in Spokane, Washington and attended a sermon in her church in 1909 about the meaning of Mother’s Day. This gave her the idea to create a special holiday so that children could honor their fathers as well. Her own father, William Jackson Smart, was the inspiration for this holiday. In 1898, her mother died in childbirth and her father was left to raise her and her five younger brothers including the newborn infant on a farm in remote eastern Washington.

When Sonora grew up she realized the strength and selflessness shown by her father in raising his six children as a single parent. She took her idea about honoring fathers to the Spokane Ministerial Alliance. She suggested that June 5th which was her father’s birth date be established as a day to honor all fathers. The pastors needed more time to prepare appropriate sermons so June 19, 1910 was designated as the first Father’s Day holiday.

"To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter." - Euripides 

In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. President Richard Nixon signed the law which finally made the holiday permanent in 1972.

Father's Day has become a day to not only honor your father, but all men who act as a father figure: stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers and guardians. You may be interested to know that neckties still lead the list of Father's Day gifts followed by hammers, wrenches and screwdrivers.

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong.

Footnote One: The U.S. Census Bureau reports there are more than 66 million fathers living in America. The Greeting Cards Association states than almost 95 million Father’s Day cards will be given this year. .

Footnote Two: Roses are Father's Day flowers. You wear red roses for a living father and white roses for a father who is deceased.


Laughing Baby to Make Your Day

King Lear and Cordelia
King Lear and Cordelia

Famous Father Number One

Literature

King Lear in the play of the same name by William Shakespeare is one of the most famous fathers in literary history. This play of madness, murder and tragedy involves the estrangement of King Lear’s loving daughter, Cordelia, as he divides his kingdom between his other two daughters.

The naïve king believed that if his daughters told him they loved him, then they did. He did not understand that a child may disagree with a parent but still love him. Here’s a brief summary: King Lear asks his three daughters to speak of their love for him so he can decide which one most deserves his inheritance. His youngest, Cordelia, who loves him deeply is the most honest in her dialogue about her complaints so he disinherits her.

He moves in with his other two manipulative daughters, Regan and Goneril (you know right away she is no good; her name sounds like a disease). They both soon destroy his belief in their undying love for him. Disillusioned, he wanders into a storm. Cordelia arrives to save the day with the French army to restore her father’s kingdom. The two make up but are soon taken captive by Edmund – he’s the villain – who is seeking the throne.

Very sad ending: Cordelia dies, Lear is so filled with grief, it kills him. Regan and Goneril fight and both die. Only happy ending: Edgar, who is the rightful heir to the kingdom, takes the throne.

“It is a wise father that knows his own child.” William Shakespeare

What you may not know

The play, "King Lear," has a very tragic ending: both Lear and Cordelia are dead at the end. During the 18th and 19th centuries, this sad, disastrous ending was much criticized, and alternative versions were written and performed. In these new versions, the leading characters survived and Edgar and Cordelia were married - despite the fact that Cordelia was already married ... to the King of France.

February 22, 1732 - December 14, 1799
February 22, 1732 - December 14, 1799

Famous Father Number Two

History

In grade school every American child learns that George Washington is called the Father of our country. He was the first Commander-in-Chief during and after the Revolutionary War, and the first President of the United States of America.

Before he became the president, Washington was a farmer. He grew large crops of marijuana on his farm and promoted its growth. This was In the 1790s when marijuana was grown mainly for its industrial value as hemp and for soil stabilization. It wasn’t until many years later that the recreational and illegal use of “grass” became popular.

What you may not know

George Washington did not have wooden teeth. He had false teeth made of cow’s tooth, hippopotamus ivory, metal and springs – all of which fitted very poorly distorting the shape of his mouth.

Geprge did not chop down a cherry tree. A fellow named Parson Mason Weems who wrote his biography confessed that he invented this anecdote about George as a young boy to illustrate his adult heroic qualities.

George did not throw a silver dollar across the Potomac River. There were no silver dollars when George was a young man. This myth was circulated to demonstrate his strength.

George was the only U.S. President who did not live in the White House. It was not completed until after his death.

Here is a video guaranteed to make you smile, even chuckle out loud:


Look, Pa, I'm skateboarding!

William Bradford Pitt
William Bradford Pitt
Brangelina
Brangelina

Famous Father Number Three

Entertainment

Since Brad Pitt is the father of six children with his partner, Angelina Jolie, he deserves a place in the famous fathers' list. The pair are known popularly as Brangelina and have three children of their own: Shiloh born in 2006 and twins, Knox Leon And Vivienne Marcheline born in 2008. They also have three adopted children: Maddox, Pax Thien and Zahara. Their decisions to adopt inspired many of their fans to also adopt children from orphanages.

As a two-time winner of People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" title (1995 and 2000), Pitt began dating Jennifer Aniston who was starring in the TV sitcom. “Friends.” They were married in 2000 and divorced in 2005. Soon after Brad Pitt began dating actress Angelina Jolie (they co-starred in the money-making film, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”) The family currently splits their time between Los Angeles and New Orleans.

What you may not know

In an October 2006 interview with Esquire Magazine, Pitt said that he and Angelina Jolie would marry “when everyone in America is legally able to marry.”

“A man knows when he is growing old because he begins to look like his father.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Father Time
Father Time

Specially Priced HD LCD Television Sets

Oldest Father - Number Four

Father Time

This elderly bearded gentleman is most visible around New Year’s Eve. In various countries, he is used as the personification of the previous year (the Old Year) handing over the duties of time to the Baby in diapers who represents the New Year.

Father Time is usually dressed in a robe, carrying a scythe and an hourglass or some other time-keeping device to depict the constant movement of time. This image derives from many sources including that of the Grim Reaper (Death) and Chronos, the Greek god of time.

“If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right.” – Bill Cosby

What you may not know about New Year celebrations

The Chinese New Year, Yuan Tan, takes place between January 21 and February 20. The exact date is fixed by the lunar calendar in which a new moon marks the beginning of each new month.

January 1st is an important date in Greece because it is not only the first day of the New Year but it is also St. Basil's Day. St Basil was one the forefathers of the Greek Orthodox Church.

In Austria, New Year's Eve is called Sylvesterabend which is the Eve of Saint Sylvester.

In Scotland, New Year's Eve is called Hogomanay or Night of the Candle. Foods such as three cornered biscuits called Hogmanays are eaten.

© Copyright BJ Rakow 2010, 2011. All rights reserved.

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    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      I enjoyed your article very much. You are quite witty. Thank you for this pleasure.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, James. How nice of you to visit and be the very first to comment. That makes you a very special person. But you already knew that.

      The pleasure is all mine. Miss your literate hubs.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Thank you for the Father's Day history.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      This was a pretty complete look at the origins of Father's Day and there was much I didn't know. In particular, I had no idea Father's Day became a permanent holiday as recently as the Nixon Administration. That was a bit of a surprise.

      Thanks for sharing your research and insights.

      Mike

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 7 years ago from UK

      What a fun hub! And you took so much trouble over it, it's no wonder it came out so good! Thank you :-)

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      What a great article, drbj! And those entertaining videos are adorable. That little fellow laughing is every stand-up comics dream audience! And the dogs! Amazing animals!

      I'm thinking Father's Day is June 15th, isn't it? My best friend growing up was born on June 15th and her initials spelled DAD. hehe

      Thanks for a most pleasant read and so many before unknown tidbits of information!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      This is well-written and put together hub was so enjoyable to read, thank you.

    • wavegirl22 profile image

      Shari 7 years ago from New York, NY

      Quite an interesting read, especially because I love history. And you not only make it interesting but as always you make it funny! Loved this one! Rated up and going to tweet it now!!!

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      Had a nice chuckle - enjoyed the hub with the history and the way yu told it. A big rate up!

    • CYBERSUPE profile image

      CYBERSUPE 7 years ago from MALVERN, PENNSYLVANIA, U.S.A.

      I got a great bang out of this Hub. Well done. As a father of 4 sons, I can relate to the phrase you entered into this hub (by the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong), so right, for I had 4.

    • viking305 profile image

      L M Reid 7 years ago from Ireland

      Excellent hub, I learnt a lot of facts I did not know about Fathers Day and was entertained as well. Thank you

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      Thanks for bringing a smile to my face and information to my mind. Well done!

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 7 years ago

      drbj - What a terrific job researching. I am still laughing with your first video. OMG! babies have the best belly laughs in the world. The dog video's were hysterical as well. Thanks so much for bringing such meaning and laughter into my world today. Rated up!

      Awesome hub!

      Sage

    • jayjay40 profile image

      jayjay40 7 years ago from Bristol England

      Great writing as usual drbj, this hub cheered up my day and was very interesting.

    • EllenGraeger profile image

      EllenGraeger 7 years ago from Madrid

      drbj, where do you get you ideas ? I truthfully admire you and I loved the part of George Washington's teeth. Did you know that today in Germany is Father's Day and in Spain it was on March 19th ? Thank you for this magnificent hub which gets voted up !

    • Spider Girl profile image

      Spider Girl 7 years ago from the Web

      Very nicely compiled and well-researched hub i must say, also very informative!

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 7 years ago from U.K.

      Fascinating hub drbj, glad you added father time to the list, a nice touch. As ever I always enjoy your well researched hubs and the humour. :)

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, sandyspider. It was my pleasure, sandy. Thank you for the visit. And you know I don't say that to every spider I meet.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Isn't it funny, Mike, how when something like this holiday has been around for as long as we can remember, it seems like it has been around forever.

      Thanks for the kind comments. Research and insights are two of, as Julie Andrews would sing, "my favorite things."

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, De Greek. Happy you enjoyed it.

      While writing it, I kept thinking of the two fathers I have loved and admired the most in the world. My father and my husband, the father of my children, who are both no longer with us. But always, always in my heart!

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Father's Day this year is June 20th, Nellieanna. But you are welcome to celebrate on the 15th - just don't tell anyone you have special dispensation.

      Thanks for the visit - it's always a pleasure to hear from you and your thoughtful comments are most welcome. Happy you enjoyed those videos as much as I do. The absurd always turns me on.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hello - Hello, hello - can't help it. Love your name.

      Thanks for stopping by and your very kind comments. "Well-written and enjoyable to read." It doesn't hardly get any better than that. Thank you.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, wavegirl, I love when you stop by. Always really nice comments and rating and tweeting. What more could any hubber ask?

      Finding humor in history is also one of my favorite things - happy you noticed.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, billy - thank you for big up rating and the visit. It's always nice to have you stop by.

      Did you know you are my favorite longest-name-for-an-avatar- hubber?

    • drbj profile image
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      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, cybersupe, how nice to have you visit.

      Four sons? How wonderful! And only one has voiced that sort of comment? How fortunate!

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, viking305 - it's a pleasure to meet you.

      Combining facts with entertainment is what I like to do - at least I like to think that's what I do. Thanks for noticing.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      BP - it's so nice to have you here. I know how busy you are whipping up breakfasts each morning and exposing the latest fiascoes of the D.C. Demon-crats.

      Happy I could bring that smile to your face and info to your mind. What a nice phrase! I may borrow it.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Oh, Sage - "awesome"? I love that word. Thanks for using it. Happy I could provide a little laughter AND meaning to your day. You know that makes my day as well.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, jayjay, you know I always enjoy hearing from you.

      I "cheered up" your day? "Very interesting"? Have you been talking to Sage?

      Keep laughing my friend, it may be the only way we can survive this insane world.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Ellen - where do I get my ideas? Well, I hear these little voices in my head but if I take my meds they go away. No, I'm just pulling your leg.

      I get lots of ideas (remember my hub on how do your find topics for Amazon?) - the hard part is deciding which to use.

      Thanks for the info on the dates of Father's Day in Germany and Spain. Is there a special name for the holiday in those two countries?

      Thank you for the up vote and the "magnificent" comment - one of my favorite words.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Spider Girl. Thanks for stopping by, and for the very kind comments.

      Are you related to Sandyspider, the second commenter? I have to ask this: is Spider Man your father? Just wondered.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, wrenfrost, good to see you again.

      Happy you enjoyed this hub. And "fascinating, humor" and "well-researched" are high on my list of favorite comments. Thank you.

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      drbj, Great fathers day tribute and Good health and a long life to All! I love the skateboarding English Bulldog, To cute and I know all the dads will love it! Peace :)

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Really nice information. Great hub from you. I never know about Father's day before. Because there's no celebration like this in my country. But I really enjoy to read the story where this celebration begin. And I liked something about history. I found it through your hub. Thumbs up for you and I rate this!

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Katie. Thanks for stopping by. Happy you liked the hub and the videos.

      That skateboarding bulldog is so talented he'll probably end up with a television sitcom of his own. He could be the lead detective in a remake of Bulldog Drummond. If he can bark with a British accent.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, prasetio. Happy to have enlarged your knowledge of Father's Day. Of course we don't need a holiday to remind us to honor our fathers, but it does gives us an extra occasion to send a card or a gift and tell Dad how much we love him.

      Thanks for the thumbs up. It is much appreciated.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      drbj, This was a fascinating hub with a lot of information I hadn't known. I enjoyed the read very much. Thanks.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, Pamela, for the kind words. It was my pleasure. "Fascinating" is one of my very favorite comments.

      You are most welcome.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Now you've got the real history here and the best research, I only know about Sonora before, now you know it even in Babylonias time,

      I like the baby boy laughing, I laugh hard as well,

      Thank you dear friend, Maita

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 7 years ago

      Interesting read and you certainly straighten some historical facts for us. I especially love your commentary in parenthesis--so off-the-cuff and insightful. Enjoyed it and rated up.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Maita - So happy I made you laugh hard - that's my favorite thing to do.

      I couldn't stop laughing myself when I first played that laughing baby video. Did you have the same reaction? Thanks for your sweet words and your visit.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, anginwu, nice to have you visit. Happy you enjoyed this read and thanks for the comments. "Insightful" has got to be one of my favorites as is an "up rating."

      Please stop by any time.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      What fun drbj! I wonder why it took so long to make Father's Day an official holiday? I love the fact that you included cool little known info on just about every father imaginable including George Washington. Rated up.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, GL. How have you been?

      Happy you had fun with this - so did I. I thought including some little-known facts with this Father's Day history would give this article more appeal. And certainly make it more unique. Glad you appreciated that. And thanks for the "up."

    • BJBenson profile image

      BJBenson 7 years ago from USA

      Okay now I know nothing about our first president now.Gee, thanks! LOL.

      A great hub as usual and funny!

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, my dear namesake, happy you now know some of the truths about some of the George Washington myths.

      Thank you for the "great as usual" and "funny" comments. They should sustain me for at least another 5 minutes.

    • jacobkuttyta profile image

      jacobkuttyta 7 years ago from Delhi, India

      Thanks for the father's day history. It is a very informative hub. Come to know about many fathers.

      Thanks for taking timeout to do the research for making this hub.

    • BJBenson profile image

      BJBenson 7 years ago from USA

      What a gem too!

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, jk, for the visit and the thanks. Research is always time consuming but I'm glad you're pleased with the results for this hub. I am.

      Always good to hear from you.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      BJ - thanks for the "gem" comment as well as the "too" which implicitly implies more than one jewel. 'Twas my pleasure.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 7 years ago

      I like your style(of writing, not babushkas). You're putting into words what we often just think but don't say. The sarcasm. I've been reading some of your comments elsewhere and always enjoy what you have to say.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      sheila - thank you for your visit and your kind comments. I also enjoy what YOU have to say ... about ME.

      Speaking of babushkas (Brava - not everyone is familiar with that term), I'm thinking of updating that crone/young woman avatar with my own photo. Whatcha think?

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      hey drbj, I could't stop laughing when I see that boy laughing until now, I play it again and again hehe, Maita

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Maita. So glad I could provide you with some laughs. Play the video as often as you like. I play it all the time because that baby's laughter is so contagious.

    • dobo700 profile image

      dobo700 6 years ago from Australia

      Thanks Maita for the Father's Day history.

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      I found this one late, but I am happy I did not miss it. All your hubs are fun, informative and well documented; a pleasure and a joy to read. The little one is so adorable I could not stop laughing. Thank you

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, Petra. Better late than never. Thank you for all the kind words which are genuinely appreciated.

      I had to include that laughing child because I couldn't stop laughing either and wanted to share it with everyone else. No thanks is needed - it's my pleasure.

      And it's always a pleasure to hear from you.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      You are welcome, dobo.

      drbj

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago

      ...well my friend you are just famous for being you - and I always love to make my FB homepage look good with a posting from one of your many hubs including this one which I must have missed the first time around - I have just created a new FB group as of last week and so far it's a roaring success and a lot of fun for everyone - I would love to have you join and participate if you're so inclined - that would be an honor and a thrill - just go to my homepage and click the group name for the link - my name is Colin Stewart with the same profile photo - sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie time 1:09pm

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Colin, what a treat to find you here. Thanks for the visit and thanks for posting this on your FB page. It will be my pleasure to go there and say hello. Warm wishes and good energy right backatcha.

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 4 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I learned some stuff, and it was a fun read! Nicely done.

    • drbj profile image
      Author

      drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, Chris. I always learn some stuff from your hubs, too. Promise! And thanks for the visit.

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