International Day of Friendship is a growing tradition with its roots stemming from different South American Countries. In some countries, it was first celebrated on the first Sunday of July, but eventually the 30th of July was designated as the official day of celebration.
In Argentina, however, its origins and official date are unique, though it celebrates and promotes the same values- friendship and peace.
Enrique Ernesto Febbraro, an Argentine professor and all around Renaissance man, was struck with the idea when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. When Armstrong spoke his famous words “One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind” Febbraro was inspired to chose that day as Friend’s Day, and began promoting it henceforth. He is quoted as saying, “I heard it being said that the landing on the moon was a grand gesture of friendship between humanity and the universe, the day was already decided!”
Febbraro wrote thousands of letters to hundreds of countries in his quest to establish the 20th of July as Friend’s Day. The first step in achieving the official celebration was taken when the Government of the Province of Buenos Aires authorized the celebration and sealed it with the legal mark.
Though Friend’s Day is not a public holiday in Argentina, it is as festive and comparable in significance to the United States’ celebrations of Valentine’s Day. At night bars and restaurants fill up with groups of friends gathering to celebrate the day and each other. Some friends exchange gifts, while others do a secret gift exchange, similar to “Secret Santa” enjoyed by many large groups of friends around Christmas.
Nowadays, with all the different social media forums available to get in touch with people, many Argentines try to get in touch with old friends that they have lost contact with through Facebook, emails, Twitter and other social networks on Friends Day. Messages are sent to old friends, between family members, recent acquaintances and to general audiences via Twitter, Facebook and all over the Internet.
Friend’s Day has seen an increase in popularity in recent years, and in addition to it being celebrated in Argentina and other South American countries, it has been proclaimed an official holiday by the United Nations General Assembly. The United Nations International Day of Friendship is now observed on the 30th of July and celebrates not only friendships between friends, but also friendships between people of all nationalities. It encourages peace and friendship between friends, family, people, countries and cultures.
Still, Argentina holds tight to its Friend Day on July 20th, and Argentines around the world can be seen or heard sending messages of love and appreciation to all their friends and to all Argentines.