Well, this is our fifth year of hugging Victorians (and others); mid-July and we’ve already had six free hugs sessions this year!
Unfortunately Marcia had to work on July 5th (International Free Hugs Day this year) so Mike had to contract out for assistance. Many thanks to Bill, Velda, Lyndsey and Andrej for coming out and sharing hugs!
Every hug is special in its own way, but with every session we get some that are unique. We’ve had two inter-species hugs so far this year (from Moose the dog and Sid the bearded dragon). We had a taxi driver pull over for a hug, but since he was in a no-parking zone we ran around to hug him through the driver’s side window. We had a roller-blade hug from someone, and while we’ve had several cyclist hugs over the years, this year one person stopped, got off her bike and removed her helmet and backpack before coming over for a hug! One little girl hugged us as her family was walking by in one direction, and then stopped again for another hug when they walked back the other way. Kids often give the best hugs. Thanks for the hugs from the parking enforcement officer who said, “Nobody wants to hug me.” (we did), and to the (off-duty) BC Transit driver! Thanks too for the woman from the US southwest who said, “I really need a hug today.” So far this year we’ve hugged people from 34 countries (that we know about): Australia, Austria, Argentina, Bahamas, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Columbia, England, France, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, the US, Venezuela, Vietnam and Wales – and we always welcome more! We take gentle hugs, A-frame hugs, hug pats, running/flying hugs and we also accept air hugs (from people across the street or in vehicles), waves, smiles, blown kisses, horn taps (from cars, and even from bus drivers!) … and we always applaud people who walk by holding hands and those who will hug their partners and/or their families when they walk by.
Some people stop and share stories about their homes and places that they give out hugs – at school or at work – and we’ve inspired a few people who have said they’re going to make up their own Free Hugs signs. The only ‘rule’ we follow is that we offer, we invite, but people have to come to us. We stand off the sidewalk so that those who wish can simply pass by. Some people aren’t comfortable with the idea, and we respect that. We wish them a wonderful day and they continue on their way.
A number of people have asked us (in a number of ways) why we do this. The answer is really very simple: we do it to create connections and to celebrate those we meet. Hugging makes us feel good, it makes the other people feel good, and for a moment it makes the world a little better place. One thing we’ve both commented on from time to time is that as we’re walking down the street with our posters rolled up we blend anonymously with the crowd of tourists and locals we pass, but once we unroll our posters and assume our post all of a sudden we step into the spotlight. It feels enervating, makes one feel a little vulnerable to the stares and glances of passers by, but it’s well worth it. Generally we roll our posters up at the end of a session and fade back into the crowd, but a few weeks ago as we were walking home we were stopped by a man who had seen us from across the street and couldn’t get to us at the time. We received most welcome hugs from both him and his son … maybe we’re not so anonymous after all.
We found this online and while we don’t know the author, it sums things up pretty well:
Hugging is healthy
It helps the body’s immune system.
It cures depression
It reduces stress
It induces sleep
It has no unpleasant side effects
And is nothing less than a miracle drug!
Hugging is all natural
It is organic, unnaturally sweet.
No pesticides, no preservatives,
No artificial ingredients
And 100 percent wholesome
Hugging is practically perfect.
There are no moving parts to wear out
No periodic checkups,
Low energy yield
No monthly payments
No insurance requirements
And, of course, returnable. Author Unknown
So, hug someone you love today! Or a stranger! Or, preferably, both!