The story behind World Friendship Day, celebrated June 30
As an international civil organization, the World Friendship Crusade supports friendship as a way of fostering a culture of peace. This organization was founded by Dr. Ramón Artemio Bracho in Puerto Pinasco, Paraguay, in 1958. He was born in 1924, graduated from the Faculty of Medical Sciences in Asuncòn (Paraguay) as a surgeon and worked as a doctor in rural areas for several years, before becoming a military doctor for the Ministry of National Defence and the Central Military Hospital.
On July 20, 1958, during a dinner with his colleagues in Puerto Pinasco, Bracho proposed to them the idea of a World Friendship Day. On that night, beside the foundation of World Crusade of Friendship organization (originally called Cruzada Mundial de la Amistad), July 30 was adopted as official Friendship Day.
Dr. Bracho strongly believes that friendship is crucial in overcoming cultural, political and religious barriers among people around the world.
On July 27, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly finally recognized this date to celebrate the International Friendship Day worldwide.
However, Friendship Day celebrations recur on different dates in some countries. In India, for instance, Friendship Day occurs on the first Sunday of August, while in Oberlin, Ohio, Friendship Day is celebrated on April 8.
In Paraguay, this celebration is observed as a popular festivity in which it is a custom to salute and wish each other happiness throughout the day, while exchanging presents.
Another classic activity during this celebration, particularly among young students but also among other general groups (coworkers, companies, civil organizations, etc.), is the game of the "invisible friend,” a variation of the popular “Secret Santa” game.
A week before the occurrence, participants write their names on a piece of paper, scramble all the pieces in a basket and then retrieve one of the names without revealing it; so, they become the "invisible friend" of the person on the piece of paper.
During the week preceding the celebration, they are invited to write small notes or letters to the selected person. On the day of the celebration, invisible friends bring presents, and one after the other, reveal their identities before giving their gifts to their new friends.
The resolution (A/RES/65/275) adopted by United Nations to establish the World Friendship Day places particular emphasis on young people as future leaders in community activities that include different cultures and promote international understanding and respect for diversity.
In this particular historical moment, in which peace balances are strained by attacks and conflict, young people have a great responsibility in determining what will be the international situation in the future. So, this occurrence can be a good opportunity for them to rediscover the value of friendship and cooperation, not only with young fellow countrymen, but also with the youth of other world's nations.