Donald MacInnes: 'Don't mock Father's Day - it really is a historic holiday'

Donald puts to bed the aspersions which are cast on the event's credibility

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The Independent Online

If you have been squirrelling away your pocket money to splurge it on your dear old dad to celebrate tomorrow's Father's Day jamboree – perhaps a personalised tankard for his mid-morning Stella or a pair of novelty socks with quotations from The Andrew Marr Show – allow me to remove some of the effort which may go along with the venture.

You will notice that I used the word "effort" and this is because Father's Day has long had the stench of tawdry invalidity about it. "It's nothing more than a Hallmark holiday," people whine, pointing to the perceived invention of the day by the greetings card companies in order to generate more cash.

So can this be why Mother's Day is always infinitely better observed than its male counterpart? Is it really the case that people prefer their mums to their dads? I think my little boy is the bee's knees and I would like to think he feels the same. He has certainly never complained about my treatment of him. And yes, he's only eight weeks old, but that is hardly pertinent.

I must say that it's hard to deny the very real possibility that public doubts about the "realness" of Father's Day regularly hamper its success. And that is a damn shame, because we dads (well, those of us who don't spend every spare moment playing Halo on the Xbox or fishing on some silent canal bank), work every bit as hard as your average mother. OK, we don't produce milk, but we do pretty much everything but that. Or at least we try to. And as far as Father's Day being a money-spinning construct from the evil minds behind all of the world's card shops, I offer the following historical "Well, actually…"

The invention of Father's Day as we know it was part of the emotional detritus of America's Monongah mining disaster, which took place on 6 December 1907 in West Virginia. The incident left 361 men dead, 250 of them fathers. The long-term result was that around 1,000 children were left fatherless, in an era when this situation could lead, at the very least, to poverty and ultimately a terrifyingly uncertain future.

Inspired by the tragedy – and co-incidentally while she was mourning the death of her own father – local woman Grace Golden Clayton suggested to her church pastor that he should instigate an annual celebration to honour all fathers. Thus, on 5 July 1908, in Fairmount, West Virginia, the first Father's Day took place. And that date should finally put to bed the yearly aspersions which are cast on the credibility of the event. It could hardly be a "Hallmark holiday", you see, because Hallmark wasn't registered as a business until 10 January 1910, some 18 months after the first Father's Day.

So put aside your mummy-loving bias and go shopping today for your old fella. And if you would still rather not get involved, just send your money to me and I'll see that it goes to a good cause. That being … well, me.

Twitter.com/DonaldAMacInnes

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