According to Wikipedia, Friendship Bracelets became popular in the US during the 1970's and was most commonly worn by teens.
Here is an interesting tid-bit I copied from them:
The knotcraft and hand weaving used to create traditional patterns stems from Native American handcrafts, particularly from Central American tradition. According to indigenous tradition, the recipient of a friendship bracelet must wear it until the cords wear out and fall off naturally. The idea is that the friend paid for it with the hard work and love that made it, and the recipient repays the friend by honoring the work. Removing the bracelet before it naturally falls off is a sign that the friendship has gone sour. Another variation of this tradition is that the recipient of a bracelet is entitled to a wish. After the bracelet wears out and falls off naturally, the wish will come true.
On that note I have to say that all 3 of my boys took to making these bracelets easily after coming across this kit by Janlynn.
I actually bought this kit at JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts and ended up using one of their 40% off coupons.
This kit includes 8 cardboard wheels, 105-10 yard skeins of craft thread, and easy to follow instructions. There are 4 designs that you are able to make and each wheel has 2 designs, one on each side.
To make each bracelet you cut 16 lengths of thread, and then they tell you what colors go where to produce the design that you want. In two simple moves and the rotation of the wheel you will have a bracelet in no time. My only complaint is that the wheel starts to separate along the edges before you finish your 1st bracelet. On that note, all 3 boys had no problems learning how to use the wheel, and have each made themselves at least 2 bracelets (I'm thinking you could easily cut more cardboard wheels, if needed). The 16 years old really likes it, since his girlfriend has made him several bracelets, and now he can reciprocate (She makes them the old fashioned way). Love this craft, but I am looking to check out a couple of books at the library to see about expanding my knowledge and learning a few more "moves", for the wheel which is also known as a "weaving wheel" and falls under my weaving interest. Another name would be Kumihimo, or Japanese Braiding if you're curious, however you can find books on friendship bracelets, Search Amazon.com for friendship bracelets, or Kumihimo Search Amazon.com for kumihimo whichever interests you more.