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The third Sunday in September (this year, that’s September 21st!) is National Women’s Friendship Day. Kappa Delta Sorority created the day in 1999 in order to “promote the special friendship of women”. (The sorority was founded in Farmville, Virginia, in 1897 and boasts almost 230,000 members worldwide.) In fact, the day became so popular that it became Women’s Friendship Month in 2009!
Holiday Insights couldn’t find any documentation confirming the day to be National, per se, since they didn’t find any congressional records or presidential proclamations, but the “governors of dozens of states have issues proclamations” supporting National Women’s Friendship Day.
There’s even science to back it up! Sumner M. Davenport writes,
[A] landmark study by UCLA suggests that friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage[s], and help us remember who we really are. But they may do even more. Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis.
“Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible,” explains Laura Cousino Klein, PhD, now an assistant professor of biobehavioral health at Pennsylvania State University in State College and one of the study’s authors. It’s an ancient survival mechanism left over from the time we were chased across the planet by saber-toothed tigers. Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just “fight or flight”.
“In fact”, says Dr.Klein, “it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress response in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight” response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect. This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone- which men produce in high levels when they’re under stress- seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it. (Yay—finally estrogen is a good thing.)
Celebrating Women’s Friendship Day is as easy as calling your best girl friend to catch up! Or, take your mother or daughter (mothers and daughters can be friends, too!) out to lunch. If you’re a man, promote the value of women in society. Remember… we wouldn’t have anyone without women!