Father’s Day celebration has gained amazing popularity over the years the world over.
The festival is initially considered to be a secular one and is celebrated not just in the Western World but in a large number of countries around the world including Nigeria. This explains why the world over people take Father’s Day as an opportunity to thank fathers and pay tribute to them.
On this day, children present gifts to their fathers in the form of Father’s Day cards, not just to their dads but also grandfathers, uncles, stepfathers or any other person who commands the position of a father in their lives.
There are several theories behind the origin of Father’s Day. Some believe that the first Father’s Day Church service was held in West Virginia in 1908. Others opine that the ceremony was first held in Vancouver, Washington.
The President of Lion’s Club, Chicago, Harry Meek is said to have celebrated the first Father’s Day with his organization in 1915 to stress on the need to honour fathers.
He selected third Sunday in June for celebration, the closest date to his birthday.
Some historians honour Mrs Charles Clayton of West Virginia as the founder of Father’s Day.
In 1957. Senator Margret Chase Smith wrote US Congress that “Either we honour both our parents, mother and father, or let us desist from honouring either one. But to single out just one of our two parents and omit the other is the most grievous insult imaginable”.
In countries where the Catholic Church holds greater influence, Father’s Day is celebrated on St. Joseph’s Day (March 19).
Here in Nigeria, the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion celebrated Father’s Day on the third Sunday in Trinity.
This year’s Father’s Day was celebrated on June 16. The day was preceeded with a week-long activities including visits to charity homes, drama presentation, evangelism, dinner, fund raising etc, depending on the parishes or dioceses.
The importance and influence of Father’s Day cannot be over-emphasised.
Solomon said; “the just (righteous) man walks in integrity. Blessed are his children after him (Proverbs 20:7).
Max Lucado wrote years ago, “Today’s my first (Father’s Day) without a father. For 31 years I had one of the best but now he’s … buried under an oak tree in a West Texas cemetery. Strange, he isn’t here because he was always available. His words were nothing novel, his achievements, though admirable, were nothing extraordinary. But his presence was. Because he was there, life went smoothly, the future was secure and my growing up was what God intended. He taught me how to shave and how to pray. Helped me memorise verses for Sunday school and taught me that wrong should be punished. That righteous has its own reward. He modeled the elusive balance between ambition and self-acceptance. I knew if I ever needed him he would be there like a warm fireplace. Maybe, that is why this Father’s Day a bit chilly, the fire is gone out. The winds of age swallowed the splendid flame, leaving only golden embers. But there is a strange thing in those embers. Stir them and flame will and knock just enough chill out of the air to remind me that he’s still present”.
Father’s Day is held to mark the role of fathers in the family and to honour them. The father represents the symbol of discipline in the family. When a father plays his role very well in any family, the children of such home in-turn acts out the discipline and training they have imbided at home in the larger society.
One thing that God saw in the father Abraham that caused God to choose him (Abraham) as God’s covenant partner was Abraham’s commitment in the training and up-bringing of his children and household.
In Genesis 18:19, God said; “for I know him, that he will command his children and household after him and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgement: that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him”.
God was saying that training children and your household is a vital secret to attract his attention.
A writer said; “prayer and fasting are great! Giving and tithing are great, but they are not enough.
“You must train your household to follow your footsteps and to follow the big foot of Jehovah God (His ways). The best way to raise positive children in a negative world is to have positive parents who love them unconditionally and serve as excellent role models” says Dr. Chris Kwakpouwe of the O.D.M fame.
Preaching a sermon at Jerusalem Anglican Church, Diobu, Port Harcourt during this year’s Father’s Day service, June 16, Evangelist Innocent Ezechiedo said fatherhood is a responsibility and that failed fatherhood is the cause of many problems of the larger society – Boko Haram, militancy, delinquency etc.
Evangelist Ezechiedo pointed out that the devil does a lot of havoc in a family when the father or the act of manliness is far from the home.
Said he; “it is not enough to mess up the destiny of your children. When you are back from your job, have enough time with your children. Ask them questions and converse and joke with them”.
Many fathers are successful in business and office but failures at home. The purpose of Father’s Day is to bring back the original intention of God giving children to parents to give them covering needs at home.
Responsible fathers are compassionate, caring and encouragers. They are people of prayers and good mentors. Fathers are urged to be positive.
God parenting, helps foster empathy, honesty, self-reliance, self-control, kindness, cooperation and cheerfulness.
Good fatherhood helps protect children from developing anxiety, depression, eating disorders, anti-social behaviour, alcohol and drug abuse, which are the greatest legacies a father should bequeath to his children.
Many people, however, feel that the trend of presenting gifts to fathers recently has led to over commercialisation of the festival thereby relegating the noble idea behind Father’s Day celebration which is basically to enliven the affection of fathers towards their children.