National Hugging Day: To Hug or Not to Hug

Carolyn’s Online Magazine





teddys-hugging-emoticon-for-facebookeI have a present for you,

but I need to borrow your arms for wrapping paper. 

~Author Unknown

The advertising jingle caught my attention:

  • Arms were made for hugging,
  • Hands for holding…

Wait a minute. Hasn’t hugging become politically incorrect?

National Hugging Day is almost here—Wednesday, January 21, 2015. Racing  behind it is the most romantic “holiday” of the year, Valentine’s Day.  ( { } )

To hug or not to hug? What’s a person to do? Total confusion reigns.

Free hugs in downtown Portsmouth, NH

Free hugs in downtown Portsmouth, NH

According to Dr. David Holmes, senior psychologist of Manchester Metropolitan University (UK), people have become so nervous about giving others a hug for fear of the consequences that the hug is close to extinction in the country…Life now is all about having minimal physical contact.

He partly blames political correctness for our confusion: we have been conditioned not to touch anyone anymore as it can easily be deemed inappropriate.*


This attitude flies in the face of National Hug Day, during which numerous organizations set out to increase the number of hugs in the world. After all, hugs not only provide warm feelings, research is showing they protect your health by being

  • A method of social support, buffering the body from stress
  • A physiological experience that lowers blood pressure and the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone)

Noted psychologist Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University has led new research that reports people who experience high levels of social support and frequent hugs are protected from a higher risk of getting sick when under stress.**

Yet we live in a world where the natural instinct to hug for comfort, celebration, and support is so hindered by political correctness (and threats of lawsuit) that

  • We are paralyzed by “legal fear,” fear—Our insistence on enforcing our “rights” has made us less free—less free to use our own judgment to make common sense or humane choices about the way we live and treat others.***
  • The natural bent to hug requires advanced education to learn about its complexities.****


Don’t be fooled—a hug is not just a hug. There’s hug etiquette to learn. Huggers must respect the hugee’s personal space, asking the hugee for permission to give a hug, never assuming it’s OK to hug the huggee even if you’ve hugged the hugee many times before.

Huggers must also be instructed about how to use the different types of hugs, listed below:

  • ‘Hello’ Hug
  • Bear Hug
  • Cuddle
  • Comforter
  • Pound Hug
  • A-Frame Hug
  • Side-to-Side Hug
  • Reverse Hug
  • Dancefloor Hug
  • Wandering Hands Hug

There is also instruction about hugging between

  • Men and women
  • Woman and woman
  • Man and man

Another lesson about hugging involves the 3-second rule.

  • A hug lasts about as much time as many other human actions and neurological processes, which supports a hypothesis that we go through life perceiving the present in a series of 3-second windows. This finding reinforces the idea current among some psychologists that intervals of about 3 seconds are basic temporal units of life that define our perception of the present moment. The 3-second pattern is of paramount importance as the foundation of our conscious experience.

None of this must have concerned Nick Vujicic in 2010, when he gave 1,749 hugs in an hour at the Oregon Expo Center. He holds the title of the individual giving the most hugs in an hour.

But then, what does he know? Or care? He must be the least-stressed person alive.

So follow your heart on hugging—enjoy National Hugging day and Valentine’s Day. Just be careful not to hug if you or your huggee are contagious. We wouldn’t want either of you to become ill, would we?


Additional Reading From CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS:

Free Hugs & Gold Lions in Portsmouth, N. H.

Hugs, Sports, and Touch Banned Part 1

Hugs, Sports, and Touch Banned Part 2






About carolyncholland

In several if my nine lives I have been a medical lab technician and a human service worker specializing in child day care, adoptions and family abuse. Currently I am a photo/journalist/writer working on a novel and a short story. My general writings can be viewed at My novel site is
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4 Responses to National Hugging Day: To Hug or Not to Hug

  1. Grace ( & Fred) Wells says:

    At one time, there was a “give hugs not drugs” motto going around – not a bad idea !


  2. I’m also a hugger, nice story


  3. merry101 says:

    When did we get to such state??
    Human touch is needed…babies who are never picked up or touched lovingly don’t survive well.
    People of all ages need hugs…. 🙂 but not invading another’s space.
    Here’s a hug for you! 🙂


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