The honest truth is that friendship day is the golden example of a 'hallmark holiday'. Quite literally, since this was an occasion dreamt up by Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark Greeting Cards, back in 1919. The date of August 2 was chosen since it was conveniently far away from any other holiday on the calender.
Joyce wanted us to celebrate the day (how else?) by sending cards to each other. Her idea never really took off since people saw it for the card-selling gimmick that it was. This probably came as a surprise to Joyce since people have adapted the custom of sending greeting cards for practically everything else with little persuasion.
The greeting cards logic might have died, but the idea lived own, although in a low-key manner.
In India the idea was known, but not really practiced to any great degree. Somewhere along the line friendship bands made an appearance and a few people were tying them around each other's wrists, generally around the first Sunday of August.
Then Kuch Kuch Hota Hai happened.
Karan Johar's 1998 movie, staring Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Muhkerjee, showed SRK tying friendship bands to girls in his college. When Kajol asks him why, he coolly replies that this made him special to them.
Not only did India fall head over heels for that movie and SRK, but the country also rediscovered that almost unknown custom and began celebrating it with gusto.
It did help that SRK was using the 'love is friendship' line, convincing an entire generation of Indians that to get their love, they had to become their friend first. (good advise...until you become friend-zoned that is)
School kids across the country began a 'friendship band' buying craze and the rest, as they say is history. The arrival of the mobile phone, the SMS, email and Facebook only made it easier to spread the custom until we reach this day, when it’s all a rage.
Now many have dismissed it as a 'cooked up' holiday to make kids buy things. And this is true. But, whatever its origins, a day for kids and adults to have some fun with their friends is not a bad thing in itself and like all good ideas, this one just keeps growing.