International Friendship Day's roots go back to the early 20th century, starting around the 1920s when it was known as Friendship Day, something created to sell greeting cards. It was a holiday that fell flat with the public because of its commercial nature. In 1930 the idea was resurrected by the founder of Hallmark cards, Joyce Hall, and set in early August. Hallmark touted it as a day for people to celebrate their friendships (with greeting cards, naturally), but interest waned and by the 1940s, it fizzled.
Friendship Day got a second revival in 1998 when, in a joint collaboration between the United Nations and Disney Enterprises, the beloved honey-munching character Winnie the Pooh was named the World's Ambassador of Friendship at the U.N. After the initial hype died down, Friendship Day managed to stay afloat in the USA, but not in the way it took off in other countries, particularly in Asia.
In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly decreed International Friendship Day to be a means of connecting people and cultures around the world. The idea grew from the Culture of Peace, a resolution initially put forth by UNESCO that advocates respect for human rights, tolerance, democracy, and education for peace, along with more opportunities for women to help prevent conflicts and facilitate peace.
Today, International Friendship Day is a celebration of the people, cultures, and countries that make up our beautiful world, although the celebratory date is not the same in every country. Still, it's a time for people to connect, celebrate their friendships, and make new friends by reaching out to others. And yes, greeting cards are welcome. Take a look at these unexpected friendships in history.
Looking for friends in other countries? Try International Pen Friends (IPF) for snail mail pen pals, or Postcrossing to send and receive postcards with random people all over the world. The more we share our world with others, the more we discover how alike we all really are.
Happy International Friendship Day from the Holiday Chicks!
- Barbara 🙃
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