Happy Friendship Day!

Friendship Day (also International Friendship Day or Friend’s Day) is a day in several countries for celebrating friendship.

It was first proposed in 1958 in Paraguay as the “International Friendship Day”.

It was initially promoted by the greeting cards’ industry, evidence from social networking sites shows a revival of interest in the holiday that may have grown with the spread of the Internet, particularly in India, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. Mobile phones, digital communication and social media have contributed to popularise the custom.

Those who promote the holiday in South Asia attribute the tradition of dedicating a day in the honour of friends to have originated in the United States in 1935 but it actually dates back to 1919. The exchange of Friendship Day gifts like flowers, cards and wrist bands is a popular tradition on this occasion.

Friendship Day celebrations occur on different dates in different countries. The first World Friendship Day was proposed for 30 July in 1958, by the World Friendship Crusade. On 27 April 2011 the General Assembly of the United Nations declared 30 July as official International Friendship Day. However, some countries, like India, celebrate Friendship Day on the first Sunday of August. In Nepal, Friendship day is celebrated on 30 July each year. In Oberlin, Ohio, Friendship Day is celebrated on 09 April each year.

Brief History

Friendship Day was originated by Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark cards in 1930, intended to be 02 August and a day when people celebrated their friendships by holiday celebrations. Friendship Day was promoted by the greeting card National Association during the 1920s but met with consumer resistance – given that it was too obviously a commercial gimmick to promote greetings cards. In the 1940s the number of Friendship Day cards available in the US by had dwindled and the holiday largely died out there. There is no evidence to date for its uptake in Europe; however, it has been kept alive and revitalised in Asia, where several countries have adopted it.

In honour of Friendship Day in 1998, Nane Annan, wife of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, named Winnie the Pooh as the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations. The event was co-sponsored by the UN Department of Public Information and Disney Enterprises, and was co-hosted by Kathy Lee Gifford.

Some friends acknowledge each other with exchanges of gifts and cards on this day. Friendship bands are very popular in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and parts of South America. With the advent of social networking sites, Friendship Day is also being celebrated online. The commercialisation of the Friendship Day celebrations has led to some dismissing it as a “marketing gimmick”. But nowadays it is celebrated on the first Sunday of August rather than 30 July. However, on 27 July 2011 the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 30 July as “International Day of Friendship”.

The idea of a World Friendship Day was first proposed on 20 July 1958 by Dr. Ramon Artemio Bracho during a dinner with friends in Puerto Pinasco, a town on the River Paraguay about 200 miles north of Asuncion, Paraguay.

Out of this humble meeting of friends, the World Friendship Crusade was born. The World Friendship Crusade is a foundation that promotes friendship and fellowship among all human beings, regardless of race, colour or religion. Since then, 30 July has been faithfully celebrated as Friendship Day in Paraguay every year and has also been adopted by several other countries.

The World Friendship Crusade has lobbied the United Nations for many years to recognise 30 July as World Friendship Day and finally on 20 May, General Assembly of the United Nations decided to designate 30 July as the International Day of Friendship; and to invite all Member States to observe the International Day of Friendship in accordance with the culture and customs of their local, national and regional communities, including through education and public awareness-raising activities.

Argentina, Brazil, Spain and Uruguay

In Argentina, Brazil, Spain and Uruguay, Friendship Day (or Friend’s Day) is celebrated on 20 July.

It is a reason for a friendly gathering and greeting both current and old friends.

It became a popular celebration thanks to Enrique Ernesto Febbraro, an Argentinian dentist and Rotarian who had the idea to commemorate International Friendship inspired by the day Neil Armstrong stepped on the Moon, as an unifying gesture of friendship among nations. He sent 1,000 letters to contacts from the Rotary Club around the world while the Apollo 11 was still in space and received 700 responses that kickstarted the celebration.

In Argentina, Friend’s Day has turned into a very popular mass phenomenon. For instance, in 2005, the amount of well-wishing messages and calls led to a breakdown of the mobile phone network in the cities of Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Córdoba and Rosario, comparable to the one experienced in 2004 on Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Seats in most restaurants, bars, and other establishments are often completely booked a week before the celebration.

Bangladesh, Malaysia, India, Singapore, UAE, USA and Pakistan

In Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates Friendship Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of August every year. In Pakistan, this event is celebrated on July 19 every year.

Youngsters celebrate by exchanging greetings/text messages and tying friendship bands.

Bolivia

In Bolivia Friendship Day is celebrated on 23 July.

Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela

In Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela, and Dominican Republic Friendship Day is celebrated on 14 February, same as Valentine’s Day.

Estonia and Finland

In Finland and Estonia Valentine’s Day on 14 February is celebrated as Friend’s Day.

Paraguay

In Paraguay, the eve of 30 July is used for giving presents to close friends and loved ones, and celebrations often take place in bars and nightclubs. The game of the Invisible Friend (Amigo Invisible) is considered a tradition, in which small sheets of paper with names are given to all members of a group, each of them secretly selects one, and on 30 July gives a present to the person on the paper. This custom is practiced in both schools and workplaces in Asunción and other Paraguayan cities.

Peru

Since 2009, Peru celebrates “El dia del Amigo” on the first Saturday in July. This day was proposed by the beer brand Pilsen Callao. The objective was to recognize true friendship and differentiate its celebration from Valentine’s Day.

United States

The US celebrates Friendship Day on the first Sunday of August.

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