HISTORY from nationalcalendar.com
National Friendship Day was originally founded by Hallmark in 1919. It was intended to be a day for people to celebrate their friendship by sending each other cards, but by 1940 the market had dried up, and eventually it died out completely. However, in 1998 Winnie the Pooh was named the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations, and in April 2011 the United Nations officially recognized 30th July as International Friendship Day; although most countries celebrate on the first Sunday of August.
The first Sunday in August 2017 is the 6th, a week-end and perfect day to celebrate friendship. Because I have moved more than 25 times, I consider myself fortunate to have friends in many places and still consider them friends, even if we don’t see each other for years. The Internet and cell phones help us stay in touch, but the sound of a friend’s voice on the phone still ranks right behind seeing the friend in person or on Skype.
I recently read a book by Jacqueline Winspear called The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War (WWI). (This 2014 book is published by Harper-Collins.) In this book, two female friends from childhood also become sisters-in-law, and at some point, the newly wedded character learns to cook and bake for her husband Tom. At one point, Kezia (nickname Kezzie) makes a walnut cake, one of their shared joint favorites, and sends it to Thea. As youngsters, they would cut the cake into small pieces and count the walnuts to make sure they each one enjoyed the same number of walnuts.
The paragraph below is so perfect for me, because it shows how food and friendship seem to be joined. Here is that paragraph from page 123.
After Thea opens the box and reads the letter from her friend and now sister-in-law, Thea says, “Oh, Kezzie,” and then her thoughts follow:
Thea sat on the chair, holding the tin in her lap. In all her years away from the farm, even when she was at school, then college, she had never been sent a cake, Her mother would not have thought it necessary….Thea lifted the lid, drew the tin towards her face, and breathed in the sweet, spicy fragrance of rich walnut cake. It was if she could distinguish each and every ingredient—best butter, eggs from the farm ….candied cherries, and walnuts. Whole walnuts, not chopped walnuts. And there was another ingredient that Thea knew was there, but had no distinguishing fragrance, though it was fresh and sweet… It was as if Kezia had poured her heart into the cake, so that when Thea took a bite, as she did, later, with a cup of tea, she felt the old warmth of friendship return. She could taste the companionship itself, and she longed for her beloved Kezzie to be there, in the room with her, crumbling the cake and counting out the walnuts.
I love this passage and it seems perfect for National Friendship Day, so I wish all my friends: new and old, shy or bold, far and near…whever you are, Happy Friendship Day!
P.S. The story does not have a happy ending, but it is very moving, and celebrates family, friendship, and the human spirit.