International Friendship Day in 2020 will be celebrated on July 30. Believed to have been proposed in the South American nation of Paraguay in 1958, the day of friendship is now an international phenomenon that's very popular in Asian countries. There's evidence to suggest that social media users heavily promoted the day in recent years, but the actual originator of the idea was...wait for it...Hallmark Cards! The founder of Hallmark, Joyce Hall, proposed it as far back as 1930. She originally suggested August 2 as the day for Friendship Day.
Although the day was officially recognized by the United Nations only as recently as 2011, it's been celebrated for decades as a day to commemorate the sacred bonds of friendship. It is also celebrated on various other days of the year in different countries. For example, in the United States, Friendship Day or National Friendship Day falls on February 15th, the day after Valentine's Day. Well, if we can't date we might as well be friends, right?
Unfortunately, the efforts of Joyce Hall came to naught. By the 1940s, Friendship Day cards were rarely available because consumers weren't buying them. The issue: they thought it was a too-obvious marketing gimmick, which is understandable considering it was proposed by the founder of a greeting card company.
Since then, it has been becoming increasingly popular in South America and Asia.
The real momentum for International Friendship Day came from Paraguay national Dr. Ramon Artemio Bracho. It was suggested during a dinner party with his friends but quickly gained momentum to take on the avatar of the World Friendship Crusade. The organization sought to bring the spirit of brotherhood and friendship among people regardless of race, religion, or color.
This more-meaningful movement is as relevant today as it was more than seven decades ago. In many countries, people celebrate it on the first Sunday of August rather than on July 30.
Today, people celebrate the event with all the pomp and joy of a national holiday in Paraguay and many other countries. Around the world, social media has given it far greater reach and visibility than either Joyce Hall or Dr. Bracho could have ever imagined.
So, what do you actually do on International Friendship Day? Here are some ideas.
Give them gifts: There are plenty of meaningful gifts like Friendship Lamps that will make the day last all through the year.
Spend time with your besties: Nothing says "I value your friendship" like spending precious moments with a close friend. It's probably the most expensive gift you can ever gift a friend.
Take a trip: A holiday in another country with your friends might not be an option in 2020, but why not take a packed lunch and drive to some remote location where you can enjoy reminiscing and creating new memories?
Have a dinner party: Invite a few of your closest friends for a private dinner party at home. You probably know what their favorite foods and drinks are, so splurge and pamper them on this special day.
Make a new friend or three: It's the perfect day to add to your list of friends. Maybe an old acquaintance you've been meaning to get to know better, or even learning the name of the security guard at work who you never really paid attention to. Pick up the phone, pick up that smile, and go make a friend on International Friendship Day.
Start a new hobby: Friendship gets stronger when you have shared interests, so this would be a good day to begin a new pursuit like working out at the gym, starting a new diet, etc.
Host a movie night: Get together with the girls and host a session of movies in your home theater. Make sure they're true tear-jerkers!
Send some flowers: A 'friendly' twist on a classic idea. Sending flowers to a friend who lives in a different city or country will brighten up their day, both literally and figuratively.
Take some friends along and visit with the elderly: Old age homes are full of lonely people, some of them rarely getting visits from their own family members. Imagine their delight when you and your bunch of friends get there with flowers, gifts, food, and other goodies to spend the day with them. Priceless, right?
Do some form of charity: Get your friends to contribute to a cause that's close to your heart. What matters is that it will further strengthen the bonds that brought you together as friends.
What you do with your friends on International Friendship Day doesn't really matter. What's important is that you're thinking of them, spending time with them, and valuing their friendship.
In a world that's going to hell in a bucket, we need friends. As many as we can get. There's too much anger and polarization in this world as it is. Even for those of us who are mild-mannered, the pressure of being politically correct and socially perfect all the time can get to us. And the only time we can really unwind is when we're with friends. You won't find a better stressbuster than a good friend, no matter how hard you look. So value them with all you have on this special day, and make it last all day, every day.