The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

National Hugging Day

Cuddle Party ™

If ever there was a day tailor made for this consummate affectionista, it would be today. According to

National Hug Day or National Hugging Day is an annual holiday created by Rev. Kevin Zaborney. It occurs on January 21 and is officially recognized by the United States Copyright Office, but is not a public holiday. The holiday was founded on March 29, 1986 in Caro, Michigan, and has since spread to multiple countries. The purpose for the holiday is to help everyone show more emotion in public. There is only one way you are supposed to celebrate the holiday, offer a hug to anyone and everyone you want. While National Hug Day and the Free Hugs Campaign share many similarities, there is not actual association between the two. Whether you hug a family member or a stranger, the mental and physical health benefits are the same.


I was blessed to have grown up in a family in which nurturing touch was plentiful. Hugs and kisses were an every day occurrence. Back scratches, neck massages and snuggles on the sofa were common practices in the Weinstein household. I have a large extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins, so that adds to the mix. When I was in High School, I was part of a youth group in which puppy pile cuddles at weekend sleepovers were the norm. My college friends and I continued the tradition. Because I am naturally ‘touchy feely’, I attract folks who are too.

In 2005, I discovered a workshop called Cuddle Party that was designed by relationship coaches Reid Mihalko and Marcia Baczynski. It is a communication, boundary setting, relationship enhancing, non-sexual touch event. It meets the needs of those who have plenty of touch in their lives as well as those who have experienced limited, abusive or unwanted sexual touch. I attended it, along with 17 others and by the end of the 3 1/2 hour experience, I knew I wanted to be a certified facilitator. By January of 2oo6, I became #27 who had passed the rigorous process. I believe that there are now 85 folks world wide who have gone through the certification process. In the past 8 years, I have offered a few hundred Cuddle Parties and imagine that I have snuggled, spooned, hugged and massage thousands of willing cuddlers.


I have also participated in FREE HUG experiences in which I walk around with a sign, offering the opportunity to be embraced. Most have said yes, with a few politely declining. It is such a marvelous experience; feeling the warmth and heart beat connection with another soul.

There are additional benefits to this phenom:

1. A recent study, as reported by the  Daily Mail, found that hugging on the regular is correlated with a lower risk of heart disease, can fight stress and fatigue, boosts your immune system, fights infections and can reduce depression.

2. A study by psychologist Dr. Jan Astrom, published in the journal Comprehensive Psychology, found that hugging for a mere ten seconds has health benefits. A ten-second-hug can increase “feel-good” hormones like oxytocin. This, in turn, causes stress chemicals like cortisol to drop. “The positive emotional experience of hugging gives rise  to biochemical and physiological reactions,” said Dr. Astrom in an interview.


3. A  study from the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that the “heart rate increased 10 beats a minute for those without contact compared with five beats a minute for huggers.” The study looked at 100 subjects.

4. Psychologist Karen Grewen also found that hugging reduced blood pressure. The School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that the non-hugger subjects had higher blood pressure. For the non-hugging subjects, the “systolic (upper) reading jumped 24 points, more than double the rise for huggers, and their diastolic (lower) also rose significantly higher.”

You can hug family, friends, lovers, co-workers, bosses, people you meet on the street. You can hug dogs, cats and trees. There isn’t a single living being that couldn’t benefit from. What are you waiting for?


Hugs are portable, adaptable, not one size fits all and a gift that people love to return. SO, get your hug on!

My favorite song about hugging was written by Fred Small  The Hug


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