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The Real Meaning Behind Father's Day Is Actually Quite Sweet

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Ah, Father's Day. Some of us will honor our dads, husbands, or sons tomorrow, while others will spend the day celebrating special people who've played a fatherly role in our lives. But have you ever wondered the true meaning behind this sweet summer holiday? Turns out, the real Father's Day meaning is quite touching.

What's the real meaning of Father's Day?

Father’s Day originated with a Spokane, Washington, woman’s idea more than a century ago, according to widely accepted accounts. After listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in church in 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd wanted to honor and celebrate her dad—a widower and father of six. She felt it was important, and that mothers were getting all the acclaim while fathers were equally deserving of a day of praise.

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The next year, Dodd tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials seeking out support. It worked—at least in Washington State, where the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day was celebrated June 19, 1910.

Slowly, more states began to observe the holiday. Finally in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge encouraged state governments to participate. Today, fathers are honored each third Sunday of June.

Not everyone liked the idea at first.

It’s no secret that even now many people believe the importance of Father’s Day pales in respect to Mother’s Day. That’s a sentiment that dates back to when the holiday was slow to take root, largely due to the reactions of fathers themselves.

“(Men) scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving,” wrote one historian, according to Bustle.com. “Or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products—often paid for by the father himself.” Over time, though, most families came to embrace the day as a way to allow some of the fanfare given to mothers in May to spread to the man of the house in June.

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Give a Father's Day gift with meaning...

While Mother’s Day involves a lot of breakfasts in bed, flowers, spa treatments and dinners, Father’s Day is far more event-centric, according to the National Retail Federation. According to the NRF’s national survey, 27 percent of dads are hoping for a “gift of experience,” for instance, a concert, sporting event or meal in a restaurant.

In order the most popular gifts are: That gift of experience, greeting cards, clothes, electronics, cologne and other personal care products, and tools and other home improvement supplies.

...but try not to spend a lot.

As a nation, we will spend $15.5 billion on Father’s Day this year. Yes, $15.5 billion! That means that on average, shoppers will find their pocketbooks $134.75 lighter after they finish their Father’s Day shopping.

But remember, that’s an average. So keep in mind that if your budget is smaller—and many are—it really is the thought that counts. In the end, it will be those hand-painted rock paperweights and crayon-colored cards that find a lasting place in his office or at his bedside, and most especially, in his heart.

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