April 24, 2017

#05-034: Dads and Grads

vintage black-and-white photo of students lined up in graduation caps and gowns
A graduation, sometime between 1910 and 1940

Note: Two celebrations fortuitously rhymed by the advertising industry: Father's Day ("Dads") and commencement exercises ("Grads")!

Get Ready: When did you (or will you) graduate from high school? What sort of celebrations are traditional for that moment?

No offense, gentlemen, but Father's Day doesn't have nearly as distinguished a pedigree as Mother's Day. What's more, it was actually started by a woman!

Here's what happened. A woman with the striking name of Sonora Smart Dodd was grateful that her father--a Civil War veteran--had raised his six children as what we now call a "single father." After hearing a sermon on Mother's Day (the second Sunday of June), she asked her minister if they could do something similar for fathers, and suggested her own father's birthday: June 6.

But this was too soon for the pastors to get the event organized and the speeches written, so it was deferred to the third Sunday in June--where it remains to this day--though it was not made a permanent national observance until 1972.

In fact the holiday waned somewhat in the 1920s, and was revived by--honestly--the necktie industry. After the holiday nearly disappeared, in 1936, the New York Associated Menswear Retailers--under the guise of the "Father's Day Committee"--began to promote the day as a means of selling ties and other dad-related garb.


Meanwhile, that same time period in June happens to be when most colleges and high schools have traditionally held their graduation ceremonies, the participants in which--the "graduates"--can be abbreviated into a word that rhymes with "dads." Thus, newspapers across the land carry ads in the middle of June for sales targeted at "Dads and Grads."

Graduation is also called "commencement," but that term is not so popular--perhaps because "comms" doesn't rhyme with "dads"? Anyway, the ceremony is the closest thing most American teens have to a "rite of passage."

Why mid-June? It is widely held that the school year in America was arranged to allow students to work on farms in the summer, meaning that school started in September and ended in June. Revisionists have claimed otherwise--that the summer break really only got started after America became urbanized, and people needed to get away from the summer heat of the city.

Whatever the origins, students (and teachers) are just glad it happens!


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. deferred
  2. garb
  3. minister
  4. no offense
  5. pedigree
  6. revisionists
  7. sermon
  8. striking
  9. under the guise of
  10. waned

  1. delayed; put off
  2. pretending to be; appearing as
  3. a phrase meant to keep people from getting upset
  4. became less
  5. a speech given in church
  6. people trying to change historical thinking
  7. the main teacher in a church
  8. origin; derivation
  9. noticeable; impressive
  10. clothing

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for April 24, 2017

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. a; 2. j; 3. g; 4. c; 5. h; 6. f; 7. e; 8. i; 9. b; 10. d