International Day of Friendship

Written by Paula Robles
Edited by Alexandra Bravo Schroth

The international day of friendship has been celebrated every 30th of July since 2011. The General Assembly of the United Nations declared it a global event to promote and celebrate all friendly relations between people, groups, cultures, and countries and facilitate the union and encourage peace between communities (United Nations, n.d.).

It is important to emphasize that, although the official declaration by the United was in 2011, the origins of the day began in 1958, in Paraguay when the “World Friendship Crusade” organization held the first international friendship celebration named “Friendship Week.” The event ought to promote and celebrate friendship and interpersonal relationships between peers and its importance in creating a culture of peace. Subsequently, friendship celebrations grew around the world, with each country choosing a national friendship day. For instance, Argentina and Brazil celebrate friendships on the 20th of July; meanwhile, in Finland, the day is celebrated on the 14th of February (United Nations, n.d; British Council, 2019).

This day, a worldwide tradition is to send greetings, messages, or cards between friends. Furthermore, friends frequently meet to spend time together and do activities they enjoy, sometimes giving small but meaningful gifts, such as sweets, books, or famous friendship bracelets. Some organizations also join by hosting and implementing programs and get-togethers with their collaborators or workers (Joseph, 2018).

No matter how it is celebrated, the importance of this day falls on the value of friendship itself and the benefits that this bond gives to individuals and society (Campbell, 2010). Friendship is a voluntary, personal, and private bond between peers (Jerrome, 1984) that comes in all shapes and forms but always requires a special connection between two people (British Council, 2019).

A true and meaningful friendship is one of the most important relationships a person has. It can only be formed through shared experiences or interests, and it is strengthened by spending time together, talking, and supporting and understanding each other (Campbell, 2010; British Council, 2019).

These friendship ties are fundamental for the development of each person because they facilitate social integration, construction of reality and different concepts; moreover, they are essential to maintain physical and mental health. They are also significant since they allow people to feel accompanied and supported through adversity and happiness (Jerrome, 1984; Campbell, 2010; British Council, 2019). Additionally, friendships enable people to express and experiment with love and affection and sense mutual respect and acceptance (Campbell, 2010; Vela-McConnel, 2017).

On a social and global level, the United Nations states that friendship aids the development of strong ties of trust that can contribute to archive lasting stability and safety nets that can generate a peaceful culture and a passion for a better world (Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, 2020). Multicultural friendships are significant since a positive relationship between people from different backgrounds allows a greater understanding, empathy, and the nourishment of the roots of unity and solidarity (Campbell, 2010). For this reason, it is essential for everyone to be exposed to a diverse social context and to take every opportunity available to expand into new horizons and learn about the different cultures (Vela-McConnell, 2017).

Multiple organizations take this into account and promote International Friendship Programs to connect students worldwide. For example, the Rochester Global Connections, which promotes international understanding and cultural exchange between students. The Case Western Reserve University’s International Friendship Program helps students make a smoother transition when living in the United States. And BestBuddies, a program that builds one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. We, as advocates, can get involved in these programs and volunteer with an open mind to learn and appreciate different cultures and realities.

References

BestBuddies (n.d.). Best Buddies Friendship Programs. https://www.bestbuddies.org/what-we-do/friendship/

British Council (2019, November 8). International Day of Friendship. https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/general-english/magazine/international-day-of-friendship

Campbell, J. K. (2010). Value of Friendship. New Straits times, 1-1. http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30030675

Case Western Reserve University (2017, December 06). International Friendship Program. https://case.edu/international/international-student-services/living-cleveland/international-friendship-program

Jerrome, D. (1984). Good Company: The Sociological Implications of Friendship. The Sociological Review, 32(4), 696–718. doi:10.1111/j.1467-954x.1984.tb00831.x

Joseph, T. (2018, July 26). Be a trendsetter this Friendship Day. The Teenager Today. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/343014003_Be_a_trendsetter_this_Friendship_Day

Rochester Global Connections (n.d.). About us. https://rocglobal.org/our-vision

United Nations. (n.d.). International Day of Friendship 30 July. United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/observances/friendship-day

Vela-McConnell, J. A. (2017). The Sociology of Friendship. En Odell, K . (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Sociology. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press

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