Symbols Of Friendship Around The World

Updated November 24, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Friendships are some of the most important bonds we experience in life. Good friends can keep us from feeling lonely and help us stay grounded. A close friend can lift our spirits, provide us with comfort, and give us advice. When we need support, our best friend is often the first person we call. Below, we’re going to discuss the significance of friendship and how those important relationships are celebrated through symbols. 

The Importance Of Friendship

A strong friendship can provide a solid base for many other types of relationships. Romantic partnerships that are rooted in friendship are often  than those based only on passion. Having family who are also our friends can deepen what might otherwise be more formal, less tight-knit connections. And, of course, some of the best relationships in life are pure friendships. Bonds with our close friends can become as permanent as familial bonds and as intimate as those experienced in any other relationship. 

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Common Friendship Symbols

In honor of the loyalty, affection, and love often present in friendships, cultures all around the world have developed symbols to represent the special connections between friends. Whether you’re looking for ways to show a friend your loyalty or are simply curious about common expressions of camaraderie around the world, here are some symbols of friendship and their meanings. 

Symbols We Wear

A wearable symbol of friendship can be an everyday reminder of the special bond you feel with a close companion. 

Claddagh Ring 

The Claddagh ring is a common symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship, particularly in Ireland. The ring, which comprises two hands holding up a heart with a crown atop it, vividly depicts concepts like cooperation, affection, and love. According to popular legend, the ring’s origins go back to the 17th century, when a young Irishman was kidnapped by 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 the Irish symbol 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 wearable token of friendship.

Friendship Bracelet

Thought to be adapted from macramé crafts made by indigenous peoples in Central America, the friendship bracelet is one of the most recognizable symbols of companionship and admiration. Popular in the United States in the ‘70s, they are significant, in part, because they are often made by hand by the friends involved. 

Split Hearts

Jewelry made with one heart split into two pieces can represent a friendship separated by distance. When friends are apart, they each have a piece of the heart; and when they reunite, the pieces can be fitted together.

Tattoos

Tattoos are permanent inscriptions on the body, so they can be used to represent love, loyalty, and admiration in an enduring way. Cultures around the world use different kinds of tattoos to celebrate a friendship. For example, the Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, have a rich body art tradition. One common Māori tattoo is a pikorua, which is a double-twisted symbol that represents an eternal connection and an ongoing journey between friends. 

 

    Symbols We Grow

    Caring for a plant can be similar to caring for a relationship. Just as you nurture a plant to help it flourish, you can provide love and support to a friendship and watch it grow. There are several types of plants commonly used to represent friendship. 

    Jade Plant

    Native to South Africa and Mozambique, the jade plant is a succulent known around the world as a symbol of good luck and friendship. The jade plant is often given as a gift to wish luck in friends' new endeavors, or in a new year. A flowering jade plant is an especially potent symbol of friendship because the jade plant won’t flower unless it is cared for.

    Yellow Roses 

    Unlike red, pink, or white roses, which can represent romance, yellow roses are all about friendship. The cheerful color of sunlight, yellow roses express warmth and straightforward, uncomplicated love. Discovered in the middle east in the 18th century, today, yellow roses are tightly associated with a warm friendship or stable bond.

    Chrysanthemums 

    Small, white chrysanthemums have long been associated with optimism, joy, and wishes for health and happiness. When given to true friends, they are symbols of good wishes and cheer. In China and Japan, the chrysanthemum has long been an important symbol of friendship and happiness. Just like a good friendship, mums are very hardy. They also come in many different shapes, colors, and sizes, just like how a friendship can come in many varieties.

    Gemstones As Symbols

    Since friendships can be some of the most enduring relationships, it’s not surprising that many common symbols of loyal friendship are gemstones.

    Lapis Lazuli

    Thought to have been mined in the mountains of modern-day Afghanistan for over 6,000 years, lapis lazuli is a stone that has long been a symbol both of friendship and truth. It’s appropriate that the stone symbolizes honesty, as truthfulness is often a cornerstone of a strong, long-lasting friendship. 

    Topaz

    Whereas lapis lazuli focuses on honesty in a relationship, topaz symbolizes fidelity. A strong friendship requires commitment and faithfulness. Arguments and misunderstandings happen in most relationships, but faithful friends will keep showing up and working through these difficulties with you.

    Other Symbols

    Many symbols of friendship are written or illustrated representations. These can be versatile ways of expressing a strong commitment. 

    Infinity Symbol

    Technically used to represent the mathematical concept of infinity, the infinity sign (or lemniscate) is a mathematical notation that has become an emblem of commitment and continuity in friendships. These interlocking curves with no beginning or end are a rich visual symbol of our hopes for a friendship. Additionally, the experience of friendship can give 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 experienced in a friendship.

    Logographic Language

    Some of the most popular symbols of friendship come from logographic languages, in which individual characters stand for an entire word or idea (as opposed to alphabetic writing symbols like English, where letters stand for a single sound). Chinese and Japanese characters for friendship, for example, are sometimes used in pieces of jewelry or tattoos as symbols of the bond between friends.

    Looking To Build Strong Bonds With Your Friends?

    Fostering Strong Relationships In Therapy

    If you’re having trouble building strong connections with others, know that help is available. Studies show that online therapy can be an effective form of care for those who are experiencing loneliness and similar mental health-related concerns. In one study, researchers found that online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) decreased feelings of loneliness in participants while increasing overall quality of life and improving social anxiety symptoms. 

    You deserve the support and comfort that a strong friendship can provide. If you’d like help building healthy relationships, consider utilizing an online therapy platform like BetterHelp. With BetterHelp, you can participate in therapy from the comfort of home, through video call, voice call, or in-app messaging. Memberships start at $60 per week (billed every 4 weeks), and you can cancel anytime. A licensed mental health professional can help you form deeper connections with your loved ones. Read below for reviews of BetterHelp therapists from those who have sought help for similar concerns. 

    Therapist Reviews

    “I started working with Randy about a month ago. Since losing one of my best friends to suicide in college, I've gone through a couple of therapists. There's always been one reason or another that we didn't match up well. However, BetterHelp did a great job matching me up to Randy. Randy is the best therapist I've had because he's a very good listener. Randy made me feel comfortable talking about whatever was on my mind. He broke up the awkward bits with humor and made me feel in control of my own destiny. I highly recommend Randy to everyone and am very happy that BetterHelp matched us. Thank you!”

    “Marjorie has brought me so much peace of mind. Even with my family and friends around me I sometimes felt alone in my problems because it seemed like people didn't quite understand, but Marjorie does. I feel much more balanced since I was paired with her through BetterHelp.”

    Takeaway

    Your friendships are an important component of your support system. Having people in your life whom you can depend on and trust can enrich your life and even improve your mental health. If you’d like to further develop your support network, consider reaching out to a qualified mental health professional online. A licensed therapist can help you grow as a person and continue to nurture healthy, loving relationships. 

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