How did we come here? Exploring friendship from antiquity to the present day
On July 30, young people around the world all pledged to celebrate the joy of the International Day of Friendship. With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the many crises that followed, friendship became the hallmark of a fight that required us to stick together, even from a distance.
Friendship is a rainbow of emotions, a vessel of jealousies, arguments, patches, time spent, help asked for and given; of oblivion and memory. But where did it all start? When did humans on the planet first feel the sense of closeness and the need for a support system? When was Friendship Day declared to commemorate popular symbols of affection between friends?
How did we get here?
The word “friend” is derived from the Old English word ‘freonde’which meant to love or favor.
For decades, philosophers, sociologists, psychologists and anthropologists have tried to explore the idea of friendship through different contexts and the evolution of human bonds through dozens of studies.
Anthropologists believed that in ancient times (read: Greek empire), the concept of friendship was mainly related to the world of men. The thinkers and philosophers of that time believed that only those with virtues were able to forge bonds and create bonds.
Renowned anthropologist Lionel Tiger was one of the first to explore the bonds between humans and he noted that humans remained close to each other by following their ancient adaptive trait.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle classified friendship into three parts—for benefits, for mutual enjoyment, and for shared values. Ancient philosophy believes that friendship primarily rests on four pillars—hospitality, associates, relatives, and political relations.
In the Middle Ages that followed, the dominance of religion played an important role in shaping the perspective of friendship. Excessive closeness to one another was seen as disrespecting Christ.
However, in the centuries that followed, people began to feel a much greater need for consolation and support, especially in times of war and political upheaval.
And with new communication technologies opening up from time to time, the possibility of making connections is expanding. It has come to an era of virtual friendship dominating a physical friendship with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
When did the International Day of Friendship begin?
Among the many theories marking the origin of Friendship Day, it is widely believed that the celebration of the day was first organized in 1930 by the founder of Hallmark Cards – Joyce Hall. He wanted the day to be celebrated on August 2, when people come together to show their gratitude for the feelings they share for each other. However, it slowly lost its charm in the years to come.
In 1935, the American Congress decided to dedicate a day in honor of friends. It was at a time when the world was reeling from the devastating effects of World War I, with hatred spitting everywhere. It was then that Congress decided on the need for warmth and camaraderie.
Then in 1958, the World Friendship Crusade – an international civil organization proposed the first International Friendship Day on July 30. They campaigned to foster a peaceful culture through friendship.
The United Nations (UN) General adopted Friendship Day in 1997. In 1998, the wife of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Nane Annan, called Winnie the Pooh (a cartoon character ) – the World Friendship Ambassador to the UN.
The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the United Nations General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. He said July 30 would be the official date for celebrating the International Day of Friendship.