International Friendship Day was created to promote friendship and fellowship among all human beings, regardless of their race, color or religion.
Although one might think that every day is a perfectly good day to be designated as a “friendship day,” there is an actual International Friendship Day marked on calendars that has been celebrated in South American countries for many years, and especially in Paraguay, where the first World Friendship Day was proposed back in 1958. In the past, official Friendship Day observations have been held on different dates in different countries, however in 2011 the United Nations declared that the 30th of July would be the official International Friendship Day going forward even though a few countries in Asia still celebrate Friendship Day on the first Sunday in August every year.
It appears the concept of a Friendship Day in the U.S. may have first come from the greeting card industry when Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark cards in 1930, chose August 2nd as the a day when people should celebrate their friendships by sending each other greeting cards. Friendship Day had also been championed by the National Greeting Card Association in the 30’s, but failed to catch on with the public because it was seen at the time as an obvious commercial ploy to sell more greeting cards. By the 40’s the support for Friendship Day in the U.S. had fallen to the point that the holiday had nearly died out.
The holiday was largely forgotten until several countries in Asia later adopted it and kept it alive until the UN declaration in 2011. The revival of interest in Friendship Day in Asia appears to have been driven by the rise of the Internet in India, Bangladesh and Malaysia where the rapid proliferation of personal computers and mobile phones made it much easier to get in touch with old friends. Today the holiday is marked in South Asia with the exchange of Friendship Day gifts like flowers, cards and jewelry. In Asia and parts of South America today, friends acknowledge each other with exchanges of “friendship bands” that have become a tradition in places like India, Nepal and Paraguay.
On July 27th in 2011 the General Assembly of the United Nations designated July 30th as the official International Day of Friendship; and invited all Member States to observe the 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. The cause of promoting friendship and fellowship among all human beings, regardless of their race, color or religion is always a good idea, no matter what day the calendar might say it is.