How to Get Hugged by a Total Stranger

This post was originally published on my blog at Muses of a Mom in 2021 but republished here with additional information. 

During the pandemic in 2020, there was something that people wanted just as much as good health.


A hug from Grandma, who lives in another state. A hug from your bestie you only see on a Facetime call.  A hug from your son in the Army who is serving far away on a military base.

As we reached the end of 2020, the desire to wrap arms around a loved one who hadn’t been seen all year was a holiday wish.

Today we have been able to make up for many of the hugs we could not have in 2020. And today is National Hugging Day, so this gives you another reason to grab a family member and give a big bear hug.

National Hugging Day was created in 1986 by creative social entrepreneur Rev. Kevin Zaborney. January 21st falls between holidays when people usually come together, including Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day. (National Days Today)

Zaborney claims that he selected January 21st because it was a time when people were least happy. While many experience sadness during the holiday season, January is considered the most depressing month. Depression suffered this month is often referred to as seasonal depression (SAD). National Hugging Day was created for such a time to “encourage family, friends, and others to consensually hug more often. This observance also seeks to bring individuals and communities closer together to share acts of kindness and peace through hugging.”

man and woman hugging
Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez from Unsplash

One day (pre-pandemic), I visited my favorite department store. As I entered, I saw two women, a store associate and a customer, hug each other fiercely, with apparent delight in seeing one another. The scene made me smile. Then the associate saw me and called out a cheery welcome to the store. I laughed and said, “Wow, I didn’t know customers got THAT type of welcome when visiting the store. Does everyone get a hug like that?”

The associate laughed with me and said, “Sure!” then reached out to grab me into a warm hug. It was fun and spontaneous, yet I could tell it was genuine. This store associate blessed me with her kindness – a bright spot in what had been a cloudy day for me.

As I shopped through the store, this Bible verse came to mind, written by the apostle Paul:

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love,
in honor giving preference to one another.
(Romans 12:10 NKJV)

“Be kindly affectionate to one another” – We are to be friendly and caring toward others, treating them as if they were a beloved family member. “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14). It can be as simple as a smile of appreciation or a sincere thank you to a store employee.

“in honor” – Along with kindness, we should respect others. This is by seeing them, appreciating, and valuing them, regardless of rank or status. Follow the Golden Rule: In everything, do for others as you would have them do for you. (paraphrased, Matthew 7:12)

“giving preference to one another” – Another translation puts it this way: outdo one another in showing honor. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) Think of the other person before yourself. Give someone else a chance to shine.

There is so much division, intolerance, and hatred today. What would happen if we would reach out to hug each other more, think of others before ourselves, and speak with more kindness?

All Bible references are the New King James Version, linked to

3 responses to “How to Get Hugged by a Total Stranger”

  1. Very interesting. Yes, touching and hugging was deleted from our routines during the peak of the pandemic, and is slowly coming back. I will promotion Hugging Day tomorrow. Virtual hugs from Australia.

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