Why Friendship Day?

We celebrate friends and friendship on Friendship Day which is just around the corner. What is the story behind this day?

There is not much literature on Friendship Day history as we celebrate today. However, there are numerous folktales and several instance in mythological legends that shows that friends and friendship have been valued since the beginning of civilized world.

Friendship Day was initially promoted by the greeting cards’ industry. Evidence from social networking sites shows a revival of interest in the holiday on account of the internet, particularly in India, Bangladesh, and Malaysia.

The idea of Friendship Day was given by Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark Cards in the year 1930. Earlier, it was proposed to celebrate the Friendship Day on August 2 by sending greeting cards and other items to celebrate the day.

The United States Congress, in 1935, proclaimed August 1 as the National Friendship Day. Since then it is an annual event. Following the popularity and success of Friendship Day in US, several other countries adopted the tradition of dedicating a day to friends. Today, Friendship Day is enthusiastically celebrated by several countries across the world including India.

In 1997, the United Nations named Winnie the Pooh as the world’s Ambassador of Friendship.

In Argentina, Brazil, Spain, and Uruguay, Friendship Day (or Friend’s Day) is celebrated on July 20. It became a popular celebration thanks to Enrique Ernesto Febbraro, an Argentinian dentist and the local Rotarians, who had the idea to commemorate International Friendship inspired by the day Neil Armstrong stepped on the Moon, as a 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. He received 700 responses, which kickstarted the celebration.

In Argentina, Friend’s Day has turned into a very popular mass phenomenon. For instance, in 2005, the number of well-wishing messages and calls led to a breakdown of the mobile phone network in Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Córdoba, and Rosario.

Although the exact reason for the celebration of Friendship Day is not known, the need for it was felt due to the devastating effects of the First World War. The occasion was thought as an effort that could dissolve the mistrust, hatred and enmity among people of various countries through the strong ties of global friendship.

The date is unknown but many countries in Europe and Asia started the celebration of Friendship Day and adopted the custom in their country. On July 20, 1958, Dr. Ramon Artemio Brach, during a dinner with his friends in Paraguay, proposed the idea of Friendship Day and later, this resulted in the formation of World Friendship Crusade. The Crusade promotes the feeling of friendship, unity and fellowship irrespective of religion, race, colour, caste and creed.

The World Friendship Crusade then convinced the United Nations in 2011 to recognise July 30 as World Friendship Day.

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Avinash Subramaniam

Avinash has been an advertising writer, fiction writer, poetry writer, freelance writer and serial wronger. Other roles he has been in include those of an editor, brand builder, and teacher. His interests include advertising, scrabble, body building, chess, cinema, making money, reading, internet culture, cricket, photography. To hear him air his thoughts, follow him on Twitter @armchairexpert.


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