National Hug Day, January 21, celebrates healing power of hugs

Free Hugs

National Hug Day and the Free Hugs Campaign celebrate the power of hugs. Image: Flickr / TinyTall / CC-BY

There are some days when all you need is a hug. National Hug Day, Jan. 21, is a day to celebrate the kindness of those who fill that need. Though National Hug Day has been around since 1986, the legal system has gotten involved more than once.

The origins of National Hug Day

In 1986 in the northern United States, National Hug Day was started as a day to celebrate hugs. The Jan. 21 date of National Hug Day and the name “National Hug Day” was registered with the U.S. Trademark office. Rev. Kevin Zaborney registered National Hug Day, Jan. 21, and also registered Dec. 26 as National Whiner’s Day. National Hug Day is now celebrated in the United States, Canada, England, Australia, Germany and Poland.

The details of National Hug Day

National Hug Day is much like National Whipped Cream Day and International Beer Day — a day to celebrate simply by doing. Each year, the National Hug Day group also names the “most huggable people.” For 2011, the group named the Chilean miners. Though not officially associated, National Hug Day is also a great day to check out the Free Hugs Campaign. The Free Hugs Campaign simply suggests offering free hugs to strangers in public places, as a way to spread happiness and random acts of kindness.

Legal problems with National Hug Day

National Hug Day and the Free Hugs Campaign are, unfortunately, not without controversy. Juan Mann, a resident of Australia, started offering free hugs in June 2004. He became famous first for his Free Hugs Campaign, and then again when the where city he was offering free hugs banned him for not carrying public liability insurance. The issue was eventually resolved, but it means that simply offering free hugs on National Hug Day, Jan. 21, could get you in trouble, unless you remember that not everyone wants a hug, and you should always offer, never force. Be sure to double-check any city regulations on what you are doing as well, to make sure that your celebration doesn’t run afoul of the law.


Free Hugs Campaign
National Hugging Day

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