Global Hug Your Kids Day
Also known as
Global Hug Your Kid Day
the third Monday in July (since 2008)
Michelle Nichols in 2008
Global Hug Your Kids Day was started by Michelle Nichols in 2008, a decade after her son Mark died of brain cancer at the age of 8 ½. The day reminds mom and dads—especially those who are working parents and often gone—to show affection to their kids by hugging them every day.
Hugging has been around for millennia and is practiced by almost all cultures as a way to connect to others without using language. Hugs have traditionally been given in may scenarios: as a greeting or goodbye, for sympathy or congratulations, and for gratitude, support, and affection. The word "hug" seems to have come from "hugga," an Old Norse word meaning "to comfort." "Hug" was first used around 1610, to describe a wrestling hold. It began being used for its current meaning in the 1650s.
Hugs may release a hormone called oxytocin into the bloodstream. This hormone, produced in the pituitary gland, helps lower blood pressure, heart rate, and the stress hormone cortisol. It also reduces anxiety, improves mood and memory, and increase bonding and closeness. Those who hug often tend to have increased empathy for others. In order for hugs to be beneficial, those participating must trust each other and both want to hug. Otherwise, the opposite effect happens and cortisol levels rise, causing stress.
How to Observe Global Hug Your Kids Day
Celebrate the day by hugging your kids to remind them how much you care for them. Founder Michelle Nichols created the day so that parents could take special time with their children because she realized it is never known when they may be gone. Although it is a one day holiday, the day is meant to encourage hugs between parents and children throughout the whole year. If you don't have kids, you could hug your parents, or another loved one. Parents could also read Michelle Nichols' book, Hug Your Kids Today! 5 Key Lessons for Every Parent, which she published right before the first Global Hug Your Kids Day, and in which she reflected on living the previous ten years without her son.