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National Hugging Day

National Hugging Day

Open up your heart and arms this January 21 for National Hugging Day! As you might guess, this day is an annual event dedicated to the underrated art form of the hug. We love all types of hugs, from the one-armed bro hug to full bear hugs. So let’s get hugging!

When Is National Hugging Day 2023?

The simplest and most effective way of expressing affection is celebrated on National Hugging Day on January 21. Even though a hug is one of the most natural gestures, it’s not practised enough these days! This holiday encourages hugging as a therapeutic way to convey affection and emotions.

History Of National Hugging Day

National Hugging Day was created in 1986 by Kevin Zaborney. His friend was the granddaughter of Chase’s Calendar of Events proprietors. Zaborney chose January 21 because it was the time between the winter holiday season and the new year’s birthdays, which he noticed was when people tend to feel low in spirits. He also felt that Americans were often too embarrassed to show affection in public and hoped National Hugging Day would change that, though he never actually thought it would catch on.

The word “hug” is believed to come from the word “hugga”, meaning “to comfort” in the Old Norse language, first appearing approximately 450 years ago. However, the history of hugging itself is a bit more uncertain. What is known is that it is only very recently (within the past 50 years) that we have seen a full acceptance of hugging in public, separating it from other distinguished displays of affection such as kissing. The widespread adoption of hugging over the recent years has been debated due to two primary reasons: the reduced formality of dress code and manners between relationships, along with the changing behaviours of political figures in pursuit of a more relatable, warm-hearted perception of the public. 

Nowadays, we don’t even think hugging in public is considered indecent PDA. We hug to greet friends and family, to say goodbye, or to congratulate someone. To console someone or to show support. We hug before sports and performance teams begin their match and show a general sign of affection between intimate relationships. There are also Free Hug’s charity fundraisers! 

National Hugging Day Timeline

1560s

Hug joins the lexicon

Derived from the Old Norse word “hugga”, or to comfort, the OG hug entered the vocabulary around this time.

1986

National Hugging Day is Born

According to one of the top Detroit PR Firms, National Hugging Day was first celebrated on January 21, 1986, in Clio, Michigan.

2011

Joy Spreads

National Hugging Day is a hit in Germany

2012

A political embrace

Chris Christie and Barak Obama share a brief embrace on the President’s visit to New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.

National Hugging Day Traditions

The best way National Hugging Day is celebrated is by spreading love and offering hugs to your friends and family. It’s amazing how much difference a simple hug can make. Spend your day letting your nearest and dearest know you’re there for them by giving them hugs and lifting their spirits. 

National Hug Day By The Numbers

  • 12 — the number of hugs required by humans every day to be healthy. 
  • 32% — the percentage of stress that is dispelled with a hug. 
  • Twenty seconds — the average time of a hug. 
  • 4 — the number of hugs needed for survival. 
  • 8 — the number of hugs needed by humans every day for maintenance. 
  • Ten seconds — the hug time that leads to biochemical reactions in the body that boost health. 

National Hugging Day Faqs

Is there a National Hugging Day?
There is! National Hugging Day happens once a year on January 21. This year, the day is on a Tuesday

What happens when you hug someone for 20 seconds?
Studies show a 20-second hug relieves and reduces the harmful physical effects of stress and releases oxytocin.

Why are hugs so powerful?
The act of hugging can be incredibly soothing and healing and is a physical way of confirming your presence in someone’s life. It’s why we hug when we’re sad when we’ve got great news, and after a stressful day.

National Hugging Day Activities

Hug a friend
We’re sure you have tons of friends, and you’re a popular person. And with tons of friends comes tons of hugs. Close your eyes and think about how much you love your friend when hugging them. Next, press as much as you feel like without squeezing too tight. Try out different hug variations with different friends and perfect your perfect hug. A hug is like a handshake; everyone knows how to do it, but it takes a true master to do it right.
Hug a stranger
In this age of social disconnection and lack of human contact, most people are unsure how to go about hugging random people. However, hugging a stranger is more therapeutic than you think; the effects of giving free hugs to strangers are phenomenal. One method we suggest is holding a “free hugs” sign. That way, you know that the stranger consents to the hug you’re about to give them. It’s much less awkward and inappropriate than trying to hug a random stranger on the subway!
Hug yourself
Getting a hug is a great feeling. It can instantly lift your mood, making you feel safe and appreciated. Sometimes, however, there isn’t anybody around to give you that hug you need. When you need it, wrap your hands around yourself and hug yourself tightly. You might think that’s weird, but hear us out. Friends are great, but you’re the star of your own life. And you should love yourself like a star! That means making lots of time for self-care and self-love. So self-hug away.

5 Facts About Hugs That Will Make You Want One Right Now

That’s a lot of hugs.
The average time spent hugging is an hour a month.
Take the lead
Most people hug with their right arm when going for a hug.
Hugging is important for development.
As touch is integral to babies, hugging helps them become well-adjusted adults.
It is important for adults too.
Hugging is therapeutic and reduces feelings of loneliness.
Hugging leads to a good headspace.
There is a hugging meditation by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, which brings more awareness, presence, and togetherness into people’s lives.

Why We Love National Hugging Day

Hugging builds trust
1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication. Hugs instantly help increase oxytocin levels, which heal and combat feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. We can all take a lesson from this: next time, when you feel like fighting with your significant other, stop … and give your significant other a hug instead. It will give you time to calm down and remind you two of your close connection.
Hugging is healthy
Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum creates an emotional charge that activates the solar plexus chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells. Hugs also affect the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system post-hug. What does this all mean in English? It just means that hugs are good for you! They’re good for your emotional state, but they’re also good for your physical body. One might even say that hugs are the best medicine! (That said, if you get sick, please visit a doctor. We’re not joking.)
Hugs may alleviate our fears.
Scientists found that hugging — even if it was just an inanimate object like a teddy bear — helps soothe individuals’ existential fears. Interpersonal touch is such a powerful mechanism that even objects that can simulate touch by another person help instil a sense of existential significance. If you think about it, you’ll understand why: it doesn’t matter if we’re a speck in the universe as long as we’ve loved.

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