BY TAMRA BOOTH, KEEEPS
With International Friendship Day falling at the end of this week, we’ve been thinking about our own friends, how we’ve muddled through the last 18 months and been supported during these tough times. More recently, we’ve been overjoyed to meet face to face and get back to normal socialising in person. So, what is ‘International Friendship Day’ and how did it come about?
International Day of Friendship was first suggested as a day of celebration in the 1920s in the United States but it only took on a decade later when Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark Cards brought out a line of greetings cards to celebrate Friendship Day.
Other countries then began to celebrate friendship days but at different times of the year, with Argentina, Brazil and Spain all celebrating in July, India and the US celebrating on the first Sunday in August, and Finland and Estonia on Valentine’s Day.
In 2011 the United Nations finally proclaimed an official International Day of Friendship on 30 July, to promote friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals, to inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities across the globe.
Whilst friendship should be celebrated for the humanitarian reasons that the UN champions it for, on a personal and more individual level, friendship is also fantastic for both physical and mental health.
Research by an academic called Susan Degges-White found that people with three to five close friends report the highest levels of life satisfaction. Equally, people who are pleased and comfortable with the number of friends they have, no matter what number that was, also reported high life satisfaction. So it seems that it is really quality over quantity and about nurturing and enjoying those deeper friendships with your close-knit circle.
Age is not a barrier to friendship either, with Mark Twain saying, "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." Dr. Angharad Rudkin from the British Psychological Society said, “We tend to seek out people who we believe are similar to us - social status, experiences, looks, age”. However, a friendship with an age gap can be super healthy with Anna Kudak, co-author of What Happy People Do, saying, “friendships with older and younger people help broaden your perspective, which in turn allows you to have compassion and empathy in your day-to-day life”. Bette Midler and the rapper 50 Cent are famously good friends, but two that you wouldn’t necessarily say would have lots in common! So, get to know your elderly neighbour, you just might learn something.
Whilst your core group of pals are terrific for your mental health, and feeling genuinely satisfied with life, friendships are also highly beneficial for your physical health. “In fact, according to a 2010 review of research, the effect of social ties on life span is twice as strong as that of exercising, and equivalent to that of quitting smoking”.
These days, with a lot of negativity and campaigns against hate, largely on social media, International Friendship Day is a welcome way to spread some kindness and positivity and celebrate those people that make you feel warm inside. So, in light of that, we have compiled 5 ways for you to honour your own friendships.
5 WAYS TO SHOW YOUR FRIENDS THEY’RE LOVED
1. DO SOMETHING FUN!
If there is something you’ve always spoken about doing, or something that you both love doing, why not arrange to do it together? There is no better time than the present and International Friendship Day is the perfect time to get a date in the diary. Arranging in advance is essential at the moment with many activities getting booked up, but it also means you can both switch off completely having had time to make childcare arrangements or rearrange work commitments.
It is said that, “Having positive relationships with people who make healthy choices can motivate you to make similarly healthy choices,” so if you love being active but usually only have time for the gym, then hiring stand up paddleboards or booking a yoga class can be fun and healthy activities to do with a friend and can provide some encouragement to them too. The best thing about doing something active is you can go for a guilt-free coffee and brunch afterwards for a proper natter and catch up.
Alternatively, you can get the creative juices flowing and book onto an art class together. Pottery classes are particularly good, almost a form of meditation, great for your mental health and relaxing. Pottery & Prosecco or Pottery & Pizza nights are also becoming increasingly popular for fun evenings out with pals.
2. GIVE THEM A BUZZ
During lockdown, we became weary of speaking to our friends over the phone or Zoom and it seems that we’re avoiding it altogether now, preferring to meet in person. However, if it’s not possible to meet up, because of the busyness of life or the distance between you, don’t underestimate the importance of touching base over the phone. Don’t let weeks or months pass without speaking to your friends. There is only so much you can gauge over WhatsApp, so give them a call, or even better videocall and check in.
3. SHOW THEM SOME SOCIAL MEDIA LOVE
International Friendship Day has become increasingly popular due to the power of social media, and as such celebrated amongst younger people. In the UK, you’re unlikely to find an “International Friendship Day” section in your local WHSmith but what you will find is people sharing appreciation posts on Instagram using the International Friendship Day hashtag. So have a walk down memory lane, dig out some old photos and share some love to your favourite people on social media – a few lovely words can go a long way.
4. SEND THEM A LITTLE SOMETHING
Did you know that yellow roses are a symbol of friendship and caring? They are the only rose that is considered appropriate to send to anybody in a non-romantic way, to show you are thinking of them. In fact, it is said that if you send or receive yellow roses, you are firmly placing (or unfortunately have been placed in) the friend zone!
Alternatively, we LOVE dried flowers as a beautiful, low maintenance alternative which can last for years! Flowers, whether fresh or dried, when paired with a gorgeous ceramic vase, will sit proudly in your friend's home and remind them of your friendship for years to come. Our Pots & Posies range, made with the amazing Lily’s Flowers, mixes our favourite combination, dried flowers and ceramics, into one perfect product – have a little look at our range for a perfect gift for a friend.
As another option, if you’ve got a foodie friend, treat them to a gorgeous ceramic gadget like a handmade pottery salt pig for their kitchen counter. Not only do they look super chic, but they’ll think of you every time they make a meal!
5. SHOW UP
Pop round for a cup of tea. There’s nothing we love more than having a good old natter with mug in hand (handmade of course) and it is something that you don’t need to clear a morning or an afternoon for, just pop in for half an hour and take your handmade mugs with you for a cosy cuppa. If someone is struggling, or you suspect they might be, they’re likely not up for going out or will make excuses not to socialise, but there is nothing better than offloading onto a friend if you’re stressed or down in the dumps. After all, a good friend is someone that shows up in difficult times, and they’ll thank you for it. A nice brew with a friendly face might be exactly what they need!
Friendships have a huge impact and benefit to our lives, both physically and mentally so it’s only right that we nurture and care for them. Let your friends know they are appreciated and loved this International Friendship Day and all year long.