International Hugging Day

Hugging Day is celebrated each year on 21 January and it was Kevin Zaborney, from Clio, Michigan, USA, who came up with this marvellous initiative in 1986.

The idea is to encourage folks to hug each other and remember that absolutely everyone, no matter who they are, needs hugs.

We humans do actually ‘need’ hugs. Scientific studies reveal the many benefits regular hugs have on our physical health and mental well-being from maintaining our immune system to lowering our blood pressure and releasing useful hormones.


Hugging releases the hormone ‘oxytocin’ which makes us feel happy. When we feel happy we are always more successful as individuals and as a group. Studies show that teams who hug each other more often win more often.

A study conducted in 2007 showed that woman who regularly hug during pregnancy form a better bond with their born baby and are less likely to suffer from post-natal depression.

In 1999, a study published in the journal, Progress in Brain Research, revealed that oxytocin inhibits our tolerance to addictive drugs and reduces withdrawal symptoms.

For those of us who suffer from shyness, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published research in 2010 showing that hugs significantly improved the ability of people with autism to interact with others. Autism is a developmental disorder characterised by difficulties in creating relationships.

Finally, according to a 2003 study in the journal Regulatory Peptides, oxytocin released in the brain naturally promotes sleep.


Hugging releases the hormone ‘cortisol’ which lowers our heart rates and reduces any feelings of stress.

Babies need hugs as much as they need food and water. According to research conducted at Harvard University, hugs help promote normal levels of cortisol necessary for child development.


Hugging  also stimulates the ‘thymus gland’, which in turn regulates the production of white blood cells that form part of our immune system’s defense. Research shows that patients who are sick and receive regular hugs display fewer symptons and recover faster.


We are reminded once again on this ‘Hugging Day’, that dancing tango is all about the embrace and our connection with our partner.

Just imagine to what extent we really give to each other in the tango embrace! At the end of an evening of dancing, do you feel that wholesome, filled to the brim, long happy sigh escaping from within? Ahhhh yes, that’s your oxytocin saturating you with good vibes.

Indeed, what better excuse can their possibly be to go dancing!


Live Science – Effects of Oxytocin

National Hugging Day – Official Website

Photographer – Image captured at the Bergen Tango Marathon 2018 by

Story posted by: Rita Maree Horne

About the author: Social Dancer, Writer from Edinburgh

Published: 21 Jan 2021 @ 00:00

Last modified: 12 Mar 2021 @ 20:22

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