January 21st marks National Hugging Day, a day where we celebrate and recognise the importance of a simple hug.
The day owes its beginnings to a man named Kevin Zaborney, who first introduced the celebration in 1986, in Michigan, USA.
Zaborney reportedly chose this time in January as it is just after the festive period, and is usually a period where people can feel rather low. He felt it was important for people to be able to openly show affection and emotion, instead of keeping everything bottled up.
Over the years, hugging has become more socially acceptable and prominent in society. There was a time when showing such intimacy would’ve been frowned upon, particularly when it came to men showing any sort of emotion.
Some may say that the increase in acceptance for this display of affection is due to the way our culture has developed, and the fact that the need for such properness in manner and presentation is no longer necessary.
Despite this, none of us ever really consider the history or the reasons behind why we hug each other. Nor, do we ever properly recognise national hugging day.
But this year, I think recognising the 21st and the celebration it holds is more important than ever. After all, when we used to hug people, we never really considered the fact that one day we wouldn’t be allowed to do it anymore.
I think its fair to say that everyone is sick of hearing about COVID-19 and the impact it has had on us all. However, I think it is crucial to recognise the loneliness and disconnection created during this pandemic, so that when it eventually ends we will appreciate simple acts like hugging a lot more.
Right now, people across the world would probably be able to tell you someone they wish they could see and hug, but can’t due to the ongoing situation.
There will also be people who could tell you someone they wished they could hug once more, but will never get the chance to again.
There will be stories about people meeting through glass screens, giving air hugs from the six metre distance, not being able to hug their family members because they are key workers, and of course people who actually have or had the coronavirus and therefore couldn’t go near anyone.
There are few times when society has been so detached and disengaged with one another, and as a result it is a very difficult time for everyone.
But something to take from this experience is the importance of being together.
There is no time in life to keep your emotions bottled in and to be too afraid to show someone how you really feel. It’s also extremely unhealthy to keep all these feelings to yourself, and doing so can lead to some dark times.
Therefore, as National Hugging Day comes around, we may not be able to celebrate it through the physical act, but we can celebrate it by reflecting on the fact that we work better together when we show how we really feel.
When we help people, when we comfort others, and when we hug people, we are showing the true purpose of human nature; to connect.
Now, all this might sound very cheesy and cringe, and far too deep for National Hugging Day, but we are spending so much time on our own these days that it would be ignorant not to reflect on the impact this time has had on our lives, and on what really matters.
So, on this National Hugging Day, even though hugging people is off the cards unless it is those who are in your bubble, remember to appreciate hugging someone. If it wasn’t important then it wouldn’t have a full day dedicated to it every year.
It’s a simple gesture which makes a big difference.
Stay safe, stay as connected as you can with people, and please speak to someone if you need to. Don’t keep your emotions bottled up.
Sending virtual hugs to everyone.
Feature image credit: The New York Times – Eleni Kalorkoti