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Father’s Day is all about the celebration of fathers and honoring fatherhood and paternal bonds. Many countries celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June but here in Thailand it is celebrated on the King’s Birthday December 5th.
Father’s Day was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd who was born in Arkansas. Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19th 1910. Her father the civil war veteran William Jackson Smart was a single parent who raised his six children there. After hearing a sermon about Jarvis’ Mothers Day in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Although she initially suggested June 5th, her father’s birthday, the pastor did not have enough time to prepare their sermons and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.
Dodd stopped promoting the celebration when she went to study at the Art Institute of Chicago and the celebration faded into relative obscurity, even in Spokane. In the 1930’s however she started to promote the day again raising awareness at a national level. She very soon got the backing of companies that manufactured goods such as ties and pipes, and other items that were traditionally given to as gifts on Father’s Day. From 1938 onwards she had the help of the Father’s Day Council founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the commercial promotion.
The holiday met with some resistance in its first few decades as it was seen as just an attempt by retailers to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day, but the trade groups did not give up and continued to promote it, even incorporating the jokes that had been made about them in the press into their advertising campaign.
By the mid 1980’s Father’s day had become second only to Christmas for all of the men’s gift orientated industries.
His Majesty King Bhumibol Rama IX, the symbolic father of Thailand, was born in Cambridge Massachusetts on December 5th 1927. His name Bhumibol Adulyadej, means “Strength of the Land, Incomparable Power”. H is the younger son of HRH Prince Mahidol Adulyadej and Mom Sangwan (later HRH Princess Srinagarindra, the Princess Mother. His father was enrolled in the Public Health program at Harvard University when he was born, thus the rather unusual place of birth for a Thai King.
The King came to Thailand in 1928, where he briefly attended Mater Dei school in Bangkok but in 1933 his mother took him to Switzerland, where he continued his education at the Ecole Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande in Lausanne. He received the baccalaureat des letters (high-school diploma with a major in French literature, Latin and Greek). When World War II ended he returned to Thailand with his family.
Having reigned since 9th of June 1946 he is the world’s longest serving current head of state and the longest reigning monarch in Thai history.