The tradition of celebrating Friendship Day began in 1935 when the US Congress decided to dedicate a day in the honor of friends. Though it is not known exactly what were the reasons that went into the making of this day, the retrospection of the world scenario of those times can lead us to an understanding. With the devastating effects of the First World War still showing and increasing hostilities, mistrust and hatred between countries providing the perfect conditions for another imminent battle, there was a greater need for friendship and camaraderie not only among nations but also among individuals.
Hence, the US Congress decided to designate the first Sunday of the month of August as Friendship Day and with a formal proclamation in 1935, officially declared the occasion a holiday dedicated in the honour of friends and friendship. Since then, celebration of National Friendship Day became an annual event. The lofty idea of honoring the beautiful relationship of friendship caught on with the people, particularly the youngsters all over the country, and in no time Friendship Day became a highly popular festival.
But the success of this wonderful occasion was not to be limited to the US alone. With time, several other countries followed suit in adopting the tradition of dedicating a day to the cause of friendship. The beautiful idea of having a day in the honor of friends was joyously taken over by several other countries across the world. With more and more nations joining in the celebrations, Friendship Day soon became International Friendship Day.
Today, Friendship Day is enthusiastically celebrated every year by many countries. The occasion is observed on the first Sunday of every August. The traditional celebrations include meeting with friends and exchanging of cards, flowers and gifts. Many social and cultural organizations also celebrate Friendship Day by hosting programs and get togethers. Special performances by rock bands are also organized in countries like the US to enhance the jubilations.
In 1997, the United Nations named Winnie - the Pooh, the famous cartoon character as the world's Ambassador of Friendship.
It is interesting to note how some associations observe Friendship Day with different customs, by giving the festival different names and holding it in times unlike that of the actual festival.
For example, National Friendship Day is held on the first Sunday in August; Women's Friendship Day is on the third Sunday in August; the third week of May is the Old Friends, New Friends Week and the whole of February is designated as the International Friendship Month.