Reach Out and Touch Someone

Did you know that January 21 was National Hugging Day? I know I didn’t until fairly recently. One thing for sure, Rev. Kevin Zaborney, of Caro, Michigan, definitely knew what he was doing twenty years ago when he chose January to host this holiday. Who wouldn’t want to cosy up to someone during such a cold, blustery month? Now although not officially a “national”” holiday, many embrace it all the same … with the other person’s permission of course.

The word “hug” has many definitions and is believed to have originated in Scandinavia, akin to Old Norse “hugga,” meaning to comfort. Other definitions include an affectionate embrace or to clasp or hold closely. Whatever the definition, hugging is a gesture of love, of warmth, of caring. Its effects are immediate. Both the hugged and the hugger benefit.

Researchers and scientists around the world are recognizing its physiological and psychological values and, as a result, many medical facilities and treatment centres now use hug therapy to treat patients who are suffering from pain, depression, or fear. Some even venture to say that hugs are natural painkillers. As a mother, I'd have to agree.

Unfortunately, some researchers on the subject of hugging have revealed less favourable findings. For example, some studies show that children deprived of hugs during their infancy risk growing up incapable of loving others, suggesting that a child raised without any hugging can become a psychopath or sociopath.

Virginia Satir (1916-1988), noted psychotherapist and family therapist, offered the best prescription when she advised, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”

The benefits of hugging are numerous. Here are my top ten:

  1. Costs nothing
  2. Boosts your immune system
  3. Builds self-esteem
  4. Fosters self-acceptance
  5. Alleviates tension
  6. Helps curb appetite
  7. Saves heat
  8. Is portable
  9. Requires no special setting or equipment
  10. Feels incredibly good!

Hugs also come in all shapes and sizes, and can be generally classified into three groups: platonic, romantic, and sexual. The following is a sample of some friendly, loving hugs you may want to add to your hugging technique:

    • A-frame hug - facing each other, wrap arms around each shoulder, sides of heads together, bodies don’t touch below the shoulders; platonic
    • Sandwich hug - three people hugging, one is sandwiched into the middle; platonic
    • Pound hug - a combination of a hand-shake and one-armed hug; popular with the guys; strictly platonic
    • Back-to-front hug (one of my personal favorites!) - from behind the person, wrap your arms around the person’s waist or shoulders; a wonderful hug for your child or sweetheart; platonic or romantic
    • The Dip hug - just like the dance step; watch the movies “Dirty Dancing” or “Shall We Dance?” to get an idea how it's done; platonic or romantic
    • Side-by-side hug - sit beside the person with your thighs and legs touching; popular in Italy and Greece; very romantic
    • Heart-to-heart hug - chest-to-chest; can lead to kissing; very romantic

A hug is a great gift—one size fits all, and it's easy to exchange.

~Author Unknown

So, can I count on you to celebrate National Hugging Day next year? Wait a minute … why would we want to keep something that makes us feel good to just one day? Make every day a hug somebody day! Reach out and touch someone!


Copyright © 2006. Romance Unlimited™.
A division of LDH Enterprises Inc.

Leona Hamel is a Romance Agent™, speaker, coach and author of The ABC’s of Tease and Please: A Romance Handbook, and a contributing author to A First Serving of Milk and Cookies for Success. Passionate about human connection, she works with men and women who want to explore their romantic creativity and experience more passion, fun, and success in their lives. Leona can be reached at or 613-830-3560