Happy Friends’ Day!

via Wikimedia Commons

“The only reward of virtue is virtue; the only way to have a friend is to be one.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friend…. What do you think when you hear the word? (And don’t say “football friend.”) The term has become devalued in recent years. We might have four hundred friends on Facebook but only a handful are real, to-the-death, call-at-4am friends.

There’s no underestimating the importance of friendship. Medical studies show that having a good support system can help you live longer, and lonely people have a higher risk of heart disease, viral infections and cancer. You don’t need a Studenty article to tell you the importance of having good friends to support you, make you laugh and have fun with. And anyone who has fallen out with a good friend will tell you, the experience can almost be as bad as a break-up.

So why doesn’t friendship have its own celebration? Well, it does. In Finland, today, Valentine’s Day, is known as Ystävänpäivä, or in English, Friends Day. The Finns celebrate Valentines just like we do, but friends also send each other cards and mementos. It’s a day to treasure all your important connections, not just the romantic ones.

We often take our friends for granted. Us women are especially guilty of dropping our friends for men. Sometimes, we treat our friends shoddily, and then expect them to pick up the pieces when things go wrong. We can let life get in the way and not get into contact for weeks or even months. We can forget to ask them how their day is going and what news they have. We are all guilty of sins in friendship and it is true friends that have the strength to forgive each other.

So on this Valentines, don’t forget your friends too. Take a leaf out of the Finns’ book and get in contact with all of those you love.

“Do not save your loving speeches
For your friends till they are dead;
Do not write them on their tombstones,
Speak them rather now instead.”
– Anna Cummins

This article first appeared on Studenty.me on February 14 2012. 

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