According to the United Nations, International Friendship Day is celebrated on July 30th. They established it in 2011 to “foster friendships between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals.”
So – cross-cultural understanding? Exposure to different peoples, art forms, and senses of humour? Well, that sounds like fall just under Lingopie’s alley! After all, the main goal behind our method to learn foreign languages by watching TV was to make more friends at hostels and chat rooms.
July 30th – Are You Sure?
There’s a reason why we started this post by quoting the United Nations. International Friendship Day may be relatively new, but different countries have kept it around for a much longer time. However, all the other countries who have adopted the day on their own scheduled it differently.
The first country to give Friendship its own day was Paraguay, back in 1958, and scheduled it for August 2nd. The idea was picked up by a local Hallmark distributor and quickly expanded across the subcontinent. To this day, they celebrate it with “invisible friend” gift exchanges – think Secret Santa, without the red, green, and snowy white.
The country that has embraced Friendship Day the strongest is Argentina, however. They celebrate it on July 20th to commemorate Enrique Ernesto Febbraro. He was a dentist and Rotarian who sent 1,000 letters to Rotary clubs worldwide to “make friends across humankind” on the day of the first moon landing.
Uruguay, Spain, and Brazil then adopted this date. If you are ever in Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro on a Friendship Day, expect all restaurants to be fully booked!
Meanwhile, other countries in the region chose to imbue the celebration with a different meaning. In Peru, Friendship Day got a movable date to facilitate late-night outings – the first Saturday of July. Although a beer brand was the first to promote it, the day became particularly popular among immigrants and their families. It is now seen mainly as an excuse to reconnect with “the friends who went away”.
Further up north, Venezuela, Mexico and Ecuador simply tacked on a “friendship” theme on the already-established Valentine’s Day.
So what happened after Hallmark got wind of the “Friendship Day” idea? They immediately tried it out in the United States! However, they will have to wait a couple more days for it, as it was assigned the first Sunday of August.
The holiday had been steadily falling out of favour ever since the 1960s. However, thanks to immigrants, it is now slowly making a comeback. Expect friendship bracelets to go mainstream in the coming years!
Across South East Asia, Friendship Day follows the American schedule. However, India must take the credit for popularizing one of the most widespread symbols of the celebration: the friendship bracelet.
Friendship Day became a particular hit in India, as it shared some common points with Rakhsha Bandhan. This is the Hindu festival that celebrates the bond between brother and sister. During Raksha Bandhan, it is traditional for sisters to gift their brothers with a special red bracelet known as Rakhi.
In Indian cities, the tradition of Rakhi is progressively expanding to close friends and “brotherly figures”. Meanwhile, simpler “Friendship bracelets” have become popular across Indian diaspora communities around the world, from Canada to Trinidad and Tobago.
So What to Do for Friendship Day?
The common point across all these celebrations is spending time with your friends. If you are currently far away from your hometown, take the excuse and catch up with your old schoolmates.
After the drinks are over, don’t forget to plant the seeds of new friendships for next year. Expand your circle and make sure to include someone from a different background or even a foreign country. It turns out, one of the best ways to connect with people from other cultures is to learn to speak their language – so let that be your new reason to learn Spanish, French or Russian!
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