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International Friendship Day

International Friendship Day is a day for celebrating friendships. The day was first proclaimed official by the UN General Assembly in 2011, but the idea was proposed a long time ago in none other than Latin America’s Paraguay. Other dates for Friendship Day have been decided in other countries, but the aim is always the same- to promote peace and friendship not just between friends, but people of all different cultures.

The idea of a day for celebrating friendship was put forward by Dr Artemio Bracho on 20th July 1958 during a dinner party with friends in Puerto Pinasco, Paraguay. This in turn launched the start of The World Friendship Crusade, a foundation promoting friendship between everyone regardless of their background. World Friendship Day has since been celebrated religiously by Paraguay and other Latin American countries every year on 30th July. A big push by The World Friendship Crusade led to the long-awaited recognition by the United Nations in 2011. Now, International Friendship Day is celebrated all over the world, as it should be. Particularly popular in South America and South Asia, but thanks to the internet and social networking sites, the concept is spreading quickly.

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On the 20th July 1969, Dr. Enrique Ernesto Febbraro, an Argentinian philosopher, musician, and dentist created a unique date for “Friend’s Day” for Argentina after watching the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. He realized the true solidarity of mankind after hearing Armstrong’s famous words, “One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind”. He wrote thousands of letters to over 100 countries promoting the idea of Friend’s Day, and received 700 replies. The day has been recognized and deemed official by the government of Buenos Aires. It is not a public holiday, but gatherings or meals out between friends are often organized for the evening. It is an extremely popular phenomenon in Argentina; in 2005 the numbers of phone calls and texts between friends even temporarily broke down the mobile phone network in major cities.

It is a day dedicated to friendship, between already existing friends, but also everyone. The UN believes that those friendships between people of different nationalities and cultures may promote peace and help to build relationships between different communities. Aimed particularly at young people, they are hopeful that this movement along with cultural activities will also endorse understanding and respect for diversity of the human race in the future. The UN encourages governments and organizations to plan these activities, which will hopefully change people’s behavior and way of thinking in the future.

As a small gesture on this day it is a popular trend to send cards, flowers and friendship bracelets. Technology also makes things even easier nowadays, as friends can send messages to current and old friends via Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.

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