Our planet today faces many challenges, shortcomings and crises, such as violence, human rights abuses, gender inequality, poverty, and global warming. All these challenges require us to act together as they, among other things, minimize security, development, peace, and social stability among human beings. Friendship remains among the simplest ways to promote a spirit of unity, solidarity, and tolerance.
The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the United Nations General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures, and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. This day is an initiative that follows up on the proposal made by UNESCO that defined the Culture of Peace as a set of values, attitudes, and behaviors that reject violence and endeavor to prevent conflicts by addressing their root causes with a view to solving problems.
This day promotes the idea that fostering good relations and friendship can bridge the gaps between factors such as culture, race, language, and origin.
In this Youth Time piece, we will take a look at the origins of this celebration, how we can celebrate friends, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has given a new meaning to friendships, at least to some extent. With the help of this article, you will learn some interesting facts about the reason behind observing this day.
Background and Origin
Friendship Day was proposed way before it was voted on by the General Assembly. It was in the year 1930 that the concept of a national friendship day was first and originally brought into discussion by Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark Cards. This fact alone was the basis of criticizing the idea as just one among many holidays meant to increase and encourage greeting card sales. The date selected for observing this event was originally set as August 2nd.
This perspective was sufficient to place Friendship Day in the shadows for some time. By the mid-1940s, the idea faded away as people did not want to fall into another trap of spending unnecessary money on greeting cards. The act of appreciating friendships was, however, welcomed in a number of Asian countries, where it became a tradition to exchange gifts between friends.
In 1958, the World Friendship Crusade, an international civil organization that campaigned to foster a culture of peace through friendship, proposed the 30th July as the date to be noted on the calendar as the International Day of Friendship.
Critics continued to claim that this was just another holiday designed to maximize businesses profits. Today, fortunately, there are many ways to celebrate this day without spending a single dime. Let’s have a look at just a few of them.
You can promote peace and friendship, by celebrating International Day of Friendship by:
- Considering what unites us, rather than what divides us (yes, a cliché, yet very important);
- Chatting with, writing to, or ringing up a friend to whom you’ve not spoken to in a while;
- Writing down a list of what you like about your friends and sharing it with them
- Posting an appreciative post in social media;
- Improving empathy, understanding, and tolerance.
Friendship Day in Different Countries around the Globe
This date is, and has been, celebrated differently in different parts of the world, before and after the adoption of the above-mentioned UN resolution. For instance, Malaysia, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and India celebrate the day on the first Sunday of August.
On the other hand, Spain, Argentina, and Brazil celebrate it on July 20. July 23 and February 14 are two more dates that mark this day in a few countries. Despite this, July 30 remains the official and most common date of celebrating International Friendship Day and appreciating our friends.
Celebrating Friends amidst a Pandemic
It may be someone you grew up with, a colleague, a neighbor, or a new friend. Whomever you are choosing to call a friend today, you must be reminded that it’s a blessing to have someone to go out with in grim days and in happy times as well.
This statement becomes even more compelling when you look back at all the quarantine days that were eased thanks to video chatting with friends. Moreover, let me awaken your memory of all the memes spread through social media with sayings such as, “Next time my friends call me to meet at 7, I will be there at 6”. This was a bitter-sweet way of showing our friends that we miss them and (probably) showing a bit of regret for all the times we skipped going out with them.
We can grow and change as we move along our unique paths. However, for today, celebrate your friends and all the bridges you have crossed together.
Let’s better respond to COVID-19 by reconfirming our commitment to enhancing the actual friendships that we have, and committing to creating beautiful friendships in the future. Be friends with our Youth Time contributor by reaching out her out via Twitter.
Photos: Shutterstock / Edited by: Martina Advaney
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