It’s not (yet!) commonly known, but the first Saturday in July every year has been designated ‘International Free Hugs Day‘; that meant it fell on July 2 this year. Not that we ever need an excuse to hug people, but in order to celebrate we took our ‘Free Hugs’ posters down from the shelf and headed downtown. We also brought along a stack of ‘Hug Certificates‘, of course!
For our last ‘Free Hug’ session we were down on the walkway of the inner harbour, but we chose a different location this time: In order to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Navy last year, a bronze sculpture called ‘The Homecoming‘ was erected at Ship’s Point. The sculpture shows a young girl running into the waiting arms of her father, returned from sea. It was a perfect location for us!
We held our signs aloft and waited, but not for long. Very soon we had a reasonably steady stream of people coming by to hug, be hugged and, in some cases, to have their pictures taken. Several people asked why we were doing this, and we simply told them that it was International Free Hugs Day!! A couple of people wondered if it was a tourism promotion put on by the city; that may be a good idea (‘Hug Me, I’m from Victoria‘ T-shirts? Hmmm…) but no, it’s just something we enjoy doing. We hugged young people and old people and everyone in between. We hugged both locals and visitors to our city, all with gay abandon. We were instructed on how to say ‘a hug’ in Portugese (um abraca, I think), and basically we had a wonderful time! Hugging is good for you (and the person who’s hugging you), doesn’t take a lot of time, is non-fattening, doesn’t cause cavities and contributes to world peace!!
Really, though, it’s all about connecting to the stranger beside you, the one who, like you, is looking for a connection to someone else and may be a little too shy to ask for it. We think that everyone is looking for a moment’s contact, although they may not yet be willing to admit it – even to themselves. The ‘International Free Hugs Movement’ is one way, but that got me thinking about the group called ‘Improv Everywhere‘ and what they do. Their ‘MP3 Experiments’ for example, are amazing! And that got me thinking about Amy Krouse Rosenthal and the ‘Beckoning of Lovely‘ project. To truly appreciate that, though, I think you need to start with ’17 Things I Made’, so go here and click on ‘Date Added’ to get the little arrow pointing up – ^ – then start at the top and work down the list.
Don’t be shy… go out and hug someone today!!
P.S. Be sure to visit our first ‘Free Hugs’ event: Marcia’s Meanderings – Ladybugs and FREE HUGS!
P.S. II, the Sequel Ever wonder what the optimal hug length is?
According to Gay and Katie Hendricks of The Hendricks Institute…
“The magic number is…
Yep, that’s all it takes to release oxytocin in your body. Oxytocin, as you may remember, is the bonding hormone that allows you to establish a deep connection with others.
While 20 seconds seems like a short amount of time, think about the hugs you typically give and receive. Most are about 3 seconds or less.
Further research has also shown that oxytocin can help reduce your blood pressure and your risk of heart disease. So, hugging is a wonderful health benefit, too!
The next time you go to hug your mate, family member, friend or someone else you’re close to, try embracing for at least 20 seconds and experience the positive difference this can make for both of you.”