Symbols Of Friendship Around The World
Updated May 27, 2020
Reviewer Laura Angers
In every culture around the world, friendship has been recognized as one of the greatest goods that a person can have. A strong friendship can give us strength and support for good and bad times in life. Friends keep us from feeling lonely and help us to stay grounded.
A strong friendship makes a good base for most other types of relationships. Romantic partnerships that are grounded in friendship are stronger than those based only on passion. Family members who are also our friends can be a rock-solid presence in our life, instead of a yearly holiday obligation. Still, some of the best relationships in life remain those with people who are just our friends. These relationships can be as permanent as a family, and as close as lovers.
In honor of the strength of friendship, cultures all around the world have developed symbols of love and friendship. Some of these are highly distinct from symbols of romantic love, family, or marriage, while in other cases the same symbols are used for several different kinds of close relationships.
Whether you're looking for ways to show a friend your affection, or are simply curious about symbols of friendship around the world, here are some symbols of friendship and their meanings.
Things That We Wear
The same way that many married couples make public their commitment to one another by wearing wedding rings, there are many symbols of friendships from around the world that are meant to be worn. In subtle or obvious ways, these symbols announce to other people that this person is a treasured friend to somebody else.
For people in the United States, the friendship bracelet is one of the most recognizable symbols of friendship. Friendship bracelets are significant partly because they are almost always handmade by the friends involved. Traditionally, you make a wish when the bracelet is tied on, and if the bracelet falls off naturally - because the threads that tie it have worn through - the wish will come true! On the other hand, it is bad luck to remove a friendship bracelet. This is usually an indication that the relationship has cooled.
Friendship bracelets are made using macrame, a textile art that originated in South America. They spread to the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, partly from use in protest movements.
The Celtic Claddagh ring is an instantly recognizable symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship. It was developed in the 17th century by a young Irishman who was kidnapped by Mediterranean pirates and sold into slavery. While enslaved, he was trained as a goldsmith. When King William III negotiated his release, he returned to Ireland with the first Claddagh ring. He gave it to his beloved, the woman who had waited faithfully for him for the 14 years of his enslavement. Since then, the Claddagh ring has been widely used in Ireland as a wedding ring; an inheritance passed down from mother to daughter and a symbol of enduring loyalty.
No list of symbols of love and friendship would be complete without tattoos. Tattoos are a permanent inscription on our bodies, and as such are often used to celebrate relationships that we hope and wish to be permanent. People use many different kinds of tattoos to show and celebrate their friendships. Some of the most popular are matching tattoos or tattoos that are two parts of a single image. Many of the symbols of friendship in this list can be used as tattoos for a permanent sign of friendship.
Not all symbols of friendship are meant to be permanent. Sometimes they are small, temporary reminders from one person to another of the love and faithfulness between them. Flowers are one such expression of friendship.
Unlike red, pink, or white roses, which can have romantic or even possessive subtexts, yellow roses are all about friendship. Sharing the cheerful color of sunlight, yellow roses express warmth and straightforward, uncomplicated love.
Yellow roses are a fairly recent innovation, discovered in the Middle East in the 1700s. In the Victorian era, where flower arrangements were highly stylized to send particular messages, they carried connotations of jealousy or a waning relationship. The cheer of the yellow rose, however, overcame these negative images. Today, yellow roses are tightly associated with the warmest of friendships, as well as new beginnings, and get-well wishes.
Small, white, daisy-style chrysanthemums have long been associated with optimism, joy, and wishes for health and happiness. When given to a friend, they symbolize good wishes and cheer. In both Chinese and Japanese, the names for these flowers translate roughly as "gold flower." In these cultures, the chrysanthemum has long been an important symbol of friendship and happiness.
Appropriately, the chrysanthemums usually associated with friendship are part of a larger family of flowers called chrysanthemum, sometimes known as mums. Just like a good friendship, mums are very hardy. They also come in many different shapes, colors, and sizes, just like friendships come in so many varieties.
Somewhat more enduring than cut flowers, plants around the world stand for friendship. They symbolize the care and investment put into these special relationships.
Native to South Africa and Mozambique, Jade plants are succulents known around the world as symbols of good luck and friendship. They are often given as gifts to wish luck in new endeavors, or in a new year. A flowering jade plant is an especially potent symbol of friendship. The plant won't flower unless it is very well taken care of. In the same way, dedicated care of friendship makes that friendship blossom.
Since friendship can be one of the most enduring of relationships, it's not surprising that some common symbols of friendship are gemstones.
Lapis Lazuli. Lapis lazuli is a deep blue gemstone that long been a symbol both of friendship and of truth. Lapis Lazuli has been mined in the mountains of modern-day Afghanistan for over 6000 years, and for all of that time, human beings have been fascinated by the color and symbolic characteristics of this rock. It is shaped for use in jewelry but also carved into functional or art objects.
It is appropriate that lapis lazuli symbolizes friendship and truth. These two things are closely related. The strongest, longest-lasting friendships are the most honest. We rely on our friends to tell us the truth when nobody else can or will. Friends who don't speak honestly to us are not truly friends, and eventually, those relationships will fade. The people who stand by us through thick and thin, and always tell it like it, are our true friends. These friends are worthy of a symbol as ancient and deep as lapis lazuli.
Topaz is another traditional symbol of friendship. Whereas lapis lazuli focuses on the strength of honesty in a friendship, topaz symbolizes fidelity. Friends who leave you in difficult times, or can't handle any conflict, are not truly friends. A strong friendship requires commitment and faithfulness. Arguments, misunderstandings, and distance happen in any relationship, but a faithful friend is somebody who will keep showing up and work through these difficulties with you.
Many symbols of friendship aren't objects, but rather written or drawn representations. These are often also made into three-dimensional objects, such as jewelry or keepsakes.
The Infinity Symbol
The infinity symbol, or lemniscate, is a mathematical symbol that has made its way into popular culture. Technically used to represent the mathematical concept of infinity, these interlocked curves with no beginning and no end are a rich visual symbol of our hopes and dreams for our relationships. The infinity symbol is also easy to modify, as the straight portion of the lines can be replaced with significant words, phrases, or names to personalize the symbol. There are times when the experience of friendship gives rise to feelings that are so strong that they seem inexpressible, hinting at something beyond our reach. The symbol for infinity embodies some of that deep and lasting connection.
Use No Term
The usenoterm is an Adinkra symbol. Adinkra symbols were developed in West Africa as representations of concepts captured in short phrases or proverbs. The literal translation of thesenoterm is "tongue and teeth." What it symbolizes, however, is friendship and interdependence. The tongue and teeth are two different parts of our body, but share space in our mouth and need to work together to accomplish their purposes. In the same way, friends are different people, with different roles. When friends work together, it helps both people to meet their goals and fulfill their purposes.
Using words in different languages as symbols of friendship can play up the secret or exclusive side of a friendship. As children, secret codes or languages are often a part of our friendships. As adults, part of the delight of a close friendship is the ways that you "click" in a manner that isn't shared with anyone else. It's natural to look for ways to express this that have a leftover sense of code or secret language.
Some of the most popular language-based symbols of friendship come from logographic languages, where the characters stand for an entire word or idea (as opposed to alphabetic writing symbols like English, where letters stand for a single sound). The Chinese and Japanese characters for friendship called the Yŏuyíand Yūjō, respectively, are commonly used symbols of friendship for tattoos, or written communication like cards or artwork.
Two hearts drawn interlocking are a common modern symbol of friendship. The ease of drawing this symbol is part of its attraction - it can be made by a child just learning to draw, or incorporated into a sophisticated and beautiful jewelry design for an adult. A variation of the interlocking hearts symbol is friendship necklaces that are made with one heart split into two pieces. When friends are apart, they each have a piece of the heart. When they reunite, the hearts can be fitted together.
Originating in Native American cultures to designate shared goals, crossed arrows symbolize a deep commitment to friendship. It is a popular tattoo design for friends and is also sometimes used for weddings or romantic relationships.
The Power Of Friendship
Friendship can be a powerful force for good in our lives. It is no accident that so many cultures around the world developed symbols for friendship that emphasize trust and fidelity. Stable, caring relationships can anchor us when life gets rough.
When Things Go Wrong
Unfortunately, friendship can be a source of pain as well as joy. Like any relationship, friendship leaves us vulnerable to betrayal and disappointment. The very strength of these negative emotions shows us the significance of friendship in our lives. If you have been hurt by a friend or the end of a friendship, it is normal and healthy to feel sad, angry and hurt.
Thinking about these symbols of friendship might bring up these negative emotions, instead of positive ones. That's okay. If, however, you feel so sad, angry, or lonely that it is impacting your ability to live your everyday life, consider reaching out for help. A trained professional, like the ones at BetterHelp, can help you process your emotions, and move forward in life.
What is the flower of friendship?
The flower is a common friendship symbol, and there are various flowers that can show your loved friend that you care. Here are some of them.
- The yellow rose is a common friendship symbol, representing happiness.
- Mums are a common friendship symbol, and since no two mums are created alike, it can symbolize your unique friendship.
- If you want a symbol of friendship that can represent support, go for the chrysanthemum. Care is a part of friendship, after all.
- Alstroemerias are common friendship symbols, representing fortune as well.
- Besides those, any flower can symbolize friendship. Most people may not know the deeper meanings of the flowers, and they may just enjoy the smell of a flower. You really can’t go wrong with any of these flower friendship symbols.
What is a symbol for best friends?
There is no universal symbol of friendship. You can find various friendship symbols all across different cultures and countries. Let’s look at some of them.
- One of the best known friendship symbols is the friendship bracelet. This bracelet symbolizes close friendship and love, with the bracelet being handmade. Therefore, every bracelet is unique, just how the friendship between two people can be unique, too.
- Another popular friendship symbol is the yellow rose. While it was originally a negative symbol, commonly associated with jealousy, it has been reclaimed as a positive symbol of friendship.
- The Claddagh symbol, commonly used as a ring, is a long lasting symbol for friendship. Being a commonly used Irish symbol for a wedding ring, it’s also a symbol of love. Either way, it can symbolize deep friendship.
- Mums, a type of flower, is a common symbol for friendship. What makes mums unique is that they come in all sizes and colors, just like friendships. This sign of friendship not only shows you care, but it’s great for a garden too.
- The lapis lazuli is a sign of deep friendship and truth. Jewels have been a common friendship symbol for a long time, but the lapis lazuli is especially so.
- Tattoos are common as a symbol of friendship as well. Matching tattoos can be a friendship symbol that lasts forever. Common tattoos, like the infinity symbol, can symbolize a friendship that never ends. The possibilities are endless.
What is the Celtic symbol for friendship?
The Celtic friendship symbol is known as the Claddagh. The Claddagh symbol shows a heart with a crown, and it’s grasped by two hands. A Claddagh symbol can represent a special friend and can also be a sign of love. Either way, it’s a beautiful symbol that you should check out.
Why do arrows symbolize friendship?
Arrows of friendship are a common way to express closeness, and they symbolize many things. For one thing, arrows can symbolize protection, and when you have an arrow, you’re saying that you will be there for your friend no matter what.
Another reason why arrows of friendship are so strong is they can symbolize being on the same side. Two crossed arrows can mean that the two of you are quite alike.
Arrows can also represent direction. Perhaps the two of you are going in the same direction in life, and you're there for each other.
What color are friendship flowers?
Any flower can symbolize good friendship, but the most common colors are yellow and white. With yellow, roses are commonly associated with this. Although yellow roses used to have a more negative connotation in the past, they have since moved past that.
What flower means hope?
Most flowers can give you a hopeful feeling, but two flowers that can especially invoke those feelings are chrysanthemums and irises. Another flower that can symbolize hope is a tree that is bearing fruit. This especially applies after a long winter, where you can finally see trees coming back to life.
What is the symbol for kindness?
There are many symbols that can represent kindness. The orca is a common symbol of kindness. Another well-known symbol is two hands shaking, which can represent care and compassion. A hand holding a heart is another common symbol of kindness.
Since kindness makes one feel happy and cared for, many symbols can invoke that. There isn’t just one symbol that represents it.
In addition, you may find an Adinkra symbol for kindness. The AKOMA NTOSO symbol can mean understanding and agreement, which could also mean kindness as well. There are many Adinkra symbols, each representing a certain concept that we as humans have to embrace.
What is a symbol for love?
Love is such a deep emotion that because of that, there are many symbols of love. Let’s look at some of them.
- Roses. Particularly the red rose. Any flower can symbolize care; after all, your partner may just like any kind of flower, but roses are the most common symbol out of all these.
- A heart. The heart is the universal symbol, symbolize the care and emotion that can come with life.
- The maple leaf is a common Chinese symbol for friendship and love, as well as a Japanese friendship and love symbol. It’s a common nature item, and the leaf can represent the beauty in nature. It’s starting to become a more universal symbol, going outside of its Chinese friendship symbol status.
- The star symbol can represent many things, including love. Your lover can be like a star who shines bright, and you would do anything to keep that star burning no matter what.
What does the lotus flower mean?
The lotus flower is a common symbol in Asian culture. It can be a Chinese symbol for purity and rising above. In Buddhism, the lotus is loved for its ability to grow out of mud. Therefore, you can look at it as conquering the struggles of life and being a diamond in the rough. It’s one of the best known Chinese symbols out there, with it also loved in other countries. It’s also a symbol for enlightenment, too. In addition, it may mean friendship in Chinese cultures. Two friends can rise out of the mud and be great pals, after all.
What is ZIBU symbol for friendship?
The ZIBU is a modern symbol, created in 2002 by Debbie Zylstra Almstedt. You can recognize it by its two lines, both interconnected and spiraling. It symbolizes the idea that everyone has divine qualities, and when we are friends with someone, we honor those qualities. It’s also a reflection of your own qualities as well.
What does Claddagh mean?
The Claddagh ring is a symbol of friendship, loyalty, love, and similar elements. It’s made up of a heart with a crown, with two hands grabbing the heart. Therefore, you can easily connect it with anything involving a strong bond.
What does a triquetra mean?
The triquetra, or three, is a Celtic symbol that dates back thousands of years. Its meaning has evolved over the years. It can symbolize the triple goddess in Pagan religions, and in Christianity, particularly in Irish Christianity, it can represent the Holy Trinity. It can represent life and its infinite cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
It’s a versatile symbol that can represent anything that consists of three parts. That’s why it’s been so well-known for this long.
What do 3 arrows mean?
Three arrows can mean unity, resistance against fascism, strength, and much more.
What does the 3 arrows tattoo mean?
Three arrows tattoo symbols, also known as the 3 V, is a symbol of strength, struggle, closeness, and resistance.
What does 3 V tattoo mean?
Also known as the three arrow tattoo, it can symbolize strength, struggling against life, or the power of a family or group of close friends that are showing strength with everything going on in the world. It also can be a symbol of a resistance towards authoritarianism or the like.
What are the colors for friendship?
If you want to show your best friend care, one of the most unique friendship symbols you can choose is a color. Many colors will represent friendship, such as pink. Pink can mean both love and friendship depending on the context.
For those who like the friendship bracelet, all the colors can represent friendship in their own unique way. For instance, the color green on a friendship bracelet could symbolize a calm and compassionate friend. The color black on the friendship bracelet could symbolize a strong, confident, mysterious friend. Meanwhile, orange on a friendship bracelet could mean a friend is exciting or joyful.
Friendship bracelets are fun to make, and the beauty about colors is that they are up to interpretation. When you’re making friendship bracelets, you can put your own spin on colors and what they mean.
What flower name means love?
The rose is one of the most common symbols of love. While the name “rose” is Latin for “flower,” it’s become a symbol of love and friendship. If you love or care for someone, one of the best ways to express this feeling is to give them a rose. Your partner will be glad you did.
Which rose is for friendship?
The rose is a classic friendship symbol, and also a symbol of love. We commonly associate the red rose with love, while the yellow rose is the one that symbolizes friendship and care.
The yellow rose does have an interesting history. In some circles, it used to symbolize jealousy. However, that symbol soon changed into something more positive. Whether it’s love, friendship, or another positive emotion, roses have your back.