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Celebrating that modern upstart of a festival - Father's Day

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: June 17, 2014

  • William Jackson Smart - the American Civil War veteran and single parent who was the inspiration behind Father's Day

  • Sonora Smart Dodd, William Jackson Smart's daughter who invented Father's Day

  • Vintage Father's Day card.

  • An ideal Father's D ay present

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HOPEFULLY by now you've got your Father's Day gift sorted for this Sunday - one good idea is a copy of The Bugle's World War One commemorative booklet.

Failing that, according to one recent news report, don't even think of buying a tie, designer aftershave or something for the car. Apparently, 87% of dads would prefer a home cooked meal with their family - and 65% said they would rather get nothing at all than another tie!

So what will give dad something to smile about on Father's Day? A whole month of wall to wall footie perhaps? But, with England playing Italy the night before, the tension might have taken its toll by Sunday. Let's hope not.

Compared with Mothering Sunday, Father's Day is a young upstart, hailing from the USA.

The idea of setting aside a special day to honour fathers came from Sonora Dodd in 1910. In America Mother's Day is also a relatively recent invention. And, it was while hearing her local pastor's sermon on the newly-established Mother's Day, that the idea for Father's Day, occurred to Sonora.

Sonora had good reason to honour her own father, a Civil War veteran named William Smart. When Sonora's mother died giving birth to her sixth child, William was left to raise the children by himself. It was only when Sonora married and had children of her own that she realised what a brilliant job her dad had done as a single parent.

So she put her idea to the pastor, suggesting the date should be June 5, her father's birthday.

Apparently that was too soon for the pastor, who needed longer to prepare a suitable sermon on fatherhood. So the date was moved to the third Sunday in June.

Sonora also devised a few ways to celebrate Father's Day. If your father was still alive, she suggested you wore a red rose. If he had passed away, she suggested wearing a white flower to remember him. Gradually children began giving their dads cards, small gifts and treating them to special meals.

Sonora Dodd spent many years promoting the celebration of Father's Day nationally. And, seeing a gap in the market, many businesses were keen to jump on board, and in particular, manufacturers of goods aimed at men. Hence in 1938, a Father's Day Council was established by the New York Associated Mens' Wear Retailers, to help with the commercial promotion of Father's Day.

But even in the land of business opportunity, the American public was still reluctant to embrace Father's Day.

Many felt that it was just another way of parting them from their hard-earned cash rather than celebrating fathers and fatherhood in a meaningful way.

In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson tried to make Father's Day official, but Congress would not support him. In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge had a go, recommending that Americans should observe the day. In 1957 sex discrimination entered the debate as a female Senator accused Congress of ignoring dads for 40 years while honouring mothers – or "singling out just one of our two parents," as she put it.

Eventually in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed the third Sunday in June, Father's Day. And in 1972 President Richard Nixon made Father's Day a national holiday in the USA.

And, as most popular American culture finds its way across the pond to us, British dads also found themselves being treated on the third Sunday in June. Many other countries have also adopted the American date for Father's Day.

In the UK, while Mothering Sunday goes back centuries and has religious connotations, Father's Day, as we know it, didn't really take off until the 1970s. But, if you go back to earlier times, before the Reformation during the 16th century, dads did have a special day of their own.

Traditionally in the Catholic Church calendar, fathers and godfathers were honoured on the March 19, the feast day of Saint Joseph. Spanish and Portuguese dads still enjoy their treats on that date. So perhaps British dads can also claim their special day has very old roots. But, with the Americanised format, it's mostly down to Sonora Dodd - and those early 20th century businessmen looking to make a fast buck!

In those days working class men in the Black Country had a reputation for working hard and playing hard.

So what could dads expect if a designated day for fathers had existed back then? A lie-in, followed by a good breakfast, and if cash allowed, a pint or two with mates. Then back home for Sunday dinner. So not a lot of difference really!

Of course there was no telly or World Cup back then. So for the soon to be football widows out there, here are some ideas for Brazilian inspired footie snacks – while you head off for some pampering.

Brazilian food is a vibrant mix of Portuguese, African, Italian and indigenous cuisine – featuring barbecued meats, hearty pork and bean stews, sweet and savoury pastries, and tropical fruits galore.

Bauru

For each Bauru you need:

1 crusty roll – eg A 6" baguette

4 slices of deli type roast beef

3 slices beefsteak tomato

6 slices of dill pickle

2 slices fresh mozzarella cheese – about quarter of an inch thick

Preheat oven to 180 C/Gas 4

Split the roll lengthwise and place roast beef, tomato, pickles and mozzarella on bottom. Cover with the top of the baguette and place on a baking sheet.

Bake for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is just melting. Serve hot.

Brazilian Chicken with Coconut Milk

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground coriander

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion chopped

1 tbsp minced fresh ginger

2 jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 x 14oz can light coconut milk

1 bunch fresh parsley

In a medium-sized bowl mix the cumin, cayenne, turmeric and coriander. Place chicken in bowl and rub all over with the spice mix.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy pan and cook the spiced chicken for about 10 – 15 minutes each side, until juices run clear. Remove from heat and set aside. Heat remaining oil in the pan.

Cook the onion, ginger, jalapenos and garlic for about 5 minutes until tender. Mix in the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 – 8 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk. Serve this sauce over the cooked chicken and garnish with parsley. Serve with rice or pasta.

Brigadeiros

3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbsp unsalted butter

395g sweetened condensed milk

Put the cocoa powder, butter and condensed milk into a saucepan over a medium heat.

Cook, stirring constantly for 10 minutes or until the mixture starts to come away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and leave to cool.

When cool enough to handle, shape mixture into walnut sized balls. Roll in chocolate sprinkles, cocoa, shredded desiccated coconut or coating of your choice. Then place in miniature patty cases.

Eat immediately or store in airtight container in fridge.

What was your most memorable Father's Day? Email editor@blackcountrybugle.co .uk, log on to www.blackcountrybugl e.co.uk or write to us at 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.

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