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National Hugging Day: Go and Hug Someone!

I come from a hugging family. We hug one another lots. So, I readily said “yes” when asked to write this blog. After all, I’m an experienced hugger and “hugee.”

No matter all my years of experience in hugs, I couldn’t resist the urge to Google up National Hug Day.

Sister Rosemary Nudd hugging Sister Martha Wessel

The website gives a straightforward and unsurprising definition of the day: “National Hugging Day is a heartwarming holiday that encourages people to express their affection and care for one another through the simple act of giving hugs. Hugs are a universal form of physical affection that can convey love, comfort and support.”

I could have stopped at the definition Google provided but no. I am always tempted to read the “People Also Ask …” entries. Often, I find the “also ask” informational and helpful. Other times, I find them plain amusing.

‘People Also Ask’

I hope you will find the following “People Also Ask” questions and responses helpful, humorous or both.

“What are the benefits of National Hug Day?” I’m trusting you can supply your responses based on your own experiences.

“What day of the year can you give people lots of hugs?” The answer provided is “National Hugging Day, January 21, 2024.” Really? If I believed this, I’d have to send out an alert to family and friends to expect very few hugs from me after the 2024 observance of National Hugging Day.

Sister Kathleen Desautels hugs a Providence Associate

“Is it true humans need 7 hugs a day?” Family therapist Virginia Satir has this to say about how many hugs a day: “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hug a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”

“How long should a hug last?” Experts agree a hug should last 5-10 seconds. First of all, who counted her/his hugs to figure this out? Secondly, hugs seem to spring from us spontaneously and in response to a particular situation. I bet both the hugger and the hugged know how long a hug should last given the situation. (I would like to meet the person who asked the question so I could give her/him an 11-second hug. Just for the fun of it.)


In spite of my tongue-in-cheek approach thus far, I do believe that hugs and their importance in our lives deserve acknowledgement and recognition. After all, as the website explained, “hugs are a universal physical form of affection that can convey love, comfort and support.”

Who among us doesn’t need to experience being loved, comforted and supported? Would that we could simultaneously and physically embrace – offer our love, comfort and support – to all of God’s creation. Who says we can’t? Who says we’re not already doing it on a daily basis?

Count the 5-10 second plus “hugs” we give by smiling at someone; marveling at the night sky; praying for loved ones and for ones we find difficult to love; working for peace in the world; refraining from negative comments; holding a door open for someone.

This list could go on and on. Perhaps recalling this Chinese proverb will renew our conviction that our hugs are more powerful than we imagine: “The flapping of the wings of a butterfly can be felt on the other side of the world.”

Bring on the hugs!

So – how many hugs are needed each day? I’d say as many as each of us can fit into our day. Bring on the hugs!

(I’ve been aware, from the time I was asked to do this blog until now, of the shadow side of hugging and being hugged. So many of our sisters and brothers around the globe strongly resist any physical forms of affection – like being hugged or hugging. I suspect these people have suffered abuses I can’t even imagine. May we find ways to love, comfort and support them in their healing journeys.)

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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  1. Avatar Debbie Griffey on January 21, 2024 at 9:16 am

    I’m with you! Lots of hugs and as long as it is comforting for both! Greeting one another…leaving one another…something said that has touched us or made us smile…all are reasons for hugs.

    When I was a family counselor for families with young children I encouraged them to have their children on their laps for at least 10 minutes a day to have that closeness, that safe and warm touching that, as Virginia Satir said, is necessary for growth.

    Thank you for this! Sending you a virtual hug!!

  2. Avatar Robin Royce on January 21, 2024 at 9:21 am

    Hugs to you S. Denise!

    • Avatar S. Denise Wilkinson on January 22, 2024 at 1:43 pm

      Robin! How good to hear from you. I return your hug!

  3. Avatar Connie SP on January 21, 2024 at 9:33 am

    Your blog was a big hug for me this morning! Thanks so much for your insights and humor on this special day.

  4. Avatar Mary Montgomery on January 21, 2024 at 9:08 pm

    I love this, Denise! 🤗

  5. Avatar Mary Carroll Blocher on January 21, 2024 at 10:29 pm

    I too believe in hugs. I come from a family of huggers so it seems so natural. We need hugs for friendship, for joy, for congratulations, for comfort, for loss but most of all to sustain our humaneness.

  6. Avatar Linda doyle PA on January 24, 2024 at 4:10 pm

    Big hug to sr. Denise and all you other huggers out there !

  7. Avatar Della Gunning on January 24, 2024 at 7:26 pm

    Yes hugs, hugs, hugs all around !!! My grandson always calls for group hugs !!!
    Abrazos – it’s the Mexican greeting coming or going !!!

    Several years ago there was a “FREE HUGS” experiment on our campus. It was great – a lift that lasted all day long. I believe there was a “FREE HUGS” movement started around that time years ago. It was a great idea.

    Here is a big hug back at you Sr Denise !

  8. Avatar Rosemary Krider Schmid on January 24, 2024 at 10:17 pm

    Hugs are treasures! Thank you for this reflection, Sister Denise.
    We can even hug ourselves! Cross your arms and grip your upper arms (near your shoulders) with the “opposite” hand. Close your eyes. Be still. Repeat several times a day. Pray. Think of one of your happy places. Wander from one familiar place to another. Listen to music – anything that has no lyrics!
    If you haven’t been a hugger, ask someone you think will respond to a simple hug from you if it would be ok. We who come from a “no public display of affection” upbringing need to watch among our friends to find a hugger to practice with! I have been fortunate to have adult international students who are huggers!

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