Hug Day: why it is celebrated today – LA NACION

The Embrace of Assisi took place in April 2023 in the Porziuncula of the Sanctuary of Saint Mary of the Angels, Italy

Hug Day is celebrated around the world every January 21 with the aim of promoting this gesture by which people express their affection and support for each other. In this context, LA NACION spoke with Alejandro G. Roemmers to learn in detail about the initiative that promotes universal hugs to spread a message of unity and physical communication.

The word “hug” has its origins in Latin and means “action of surrounding with the arms.” Although this term is very self-explanatory, its meaning is even broader for humans. Its practice can help both physical and mental health, according to several scientific studies. It also combats worries, loneliness, depression, in addition to bringing people closer together.

Why Hug Day is celebrated today

Why Hug Day is celebrated today

Hug Day was born in the United States, as an initiative by Kevin Zaborney

Hug Day emerged in the 1980s in the United States, more precisely in the town of Clio in Michigan. A pastor and psychologist named Kevin Zaborney, who was dedicated to working with young delinquents from Boysville in Mount Morris, was the one who decided to create this celebration.


Through his work, the graduate in Psychology from the University of Michigan noticed that American society was reluctant to hug, and that it was related to the fact that they were ashamed to show their feelings in public, even among family members or close people. What’s more, he observed a lack of spontaneity when it came to showing affection. In that sense, Zaborney concluded that this gesture should last at least 20 seconds and that it should be performed several times a day.

For this reason, he decided to promote Hug Day as a way to bring society together, especially in times of inequality, social problems and violence. He then decided to place it on the calendar between the dates of Christmas and Valentine’s Day, which is why it is celebrated on January 21. Over the years, it became popular in the United States thanks to its inclusion in the Chase Events Calendar in 1986, whose owner was an acquaintance of Zaborney.


Today, Kevin Zaborney continues to promote this date which, although it began as a national holiday in the United States, has an international reach and continues to expand to different nations.

The universal embrace for peace

Nowadays, which is marked by the coronavirus post-pandemic and the role that technology plays in society, the hug has greater weight. That is why there are still initiatives that seek to unite people with this gesture. That was the case of “the hug of Assisi” or the “Not Alone” meeting (You are not alone, in English) promoted last year by the Argentine writer, poet and philanthropist Alejandro G. Roemmers.

Alejandro G. Roemmers promotes this initiative to unite people

These were meetings in which participants hugged each other to promote world peace. “The hug is a language that transcends words, it is the language of the heart, a refuge that strengthens us, where sadness fades and joys multiply. It is one of the greatest gestures of love that we can transmit to people. In a hug, the barriers of language and culture are transcended, and it is communicated directly to the heart. It is an act of generosity, where each person gives themselves to the other, offering comfort, security and affection,” the Argentine philanthropist reflected on this emotional demonstration, which is why he chose the hug for these actions.

In dialogue with LA NACION, Rommers explained how this series of universal hugs for fraternity came about. “At the end of last April, I was recognized by the Franciscan Order with the San Francesco Prize, a recognition that was awarded for the first time in 800 years to a person, and it was for my modus operandi. Days later I wanted to celebrate this fact with a hug in the Porziuncola of the Sanctuary of Santa María de los Ángeles, in Assisi, because precisely, Saint Francis of Assisi chose friendship as the most important form of social relationship for his life,” he explained.


This is how the Embrace of Assisi originated, in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. This sought to inspire the young people who participated in the action and the community to be more sensitive towards others as well as themselves. It was a significant gesture in pursuit of peace and love among the inhabitants of the planet, in order to “highlight the importance of demonstrating affection through hugs.”

Alejandro Roemmers’ participation in the Embrace of Assisi

Meanwhile, the “Not Alone” world meeting was held in June of the same year in St. Peter’s Square, an emblematic place in the Vatican. “Months later, based on that initiative, I was summoned by the Fratelli Tutti Foundation at the initiative of Pope Francis, with the intention of amplifying this action in St. Peter’s Square, involving young people from all over the world and all the Nobel Prize winners. living of peace. With this initiative I set out to inspire future generations to commit to transforming the world into a better place and jointly call to build social friendship and a paradigm of brotherhood, justice and world peace,” explained the writer and poet. This was carried out simultaneously in eight other cities on the planet.

After those two events, Roemmers was “happily surprised to see people’s commitment and enthusiasm,” and hopeful that these types of gestures of brotherhood and kindness. And he added: “It is incredible how such a small gesture, but one of unity like the hug, can reach and be understood by everyone.”


“We currently live in an era where technology and digitalization have transformed our way of communicating, which leads us to often distance ourselves. Hugs are a refuge in a fast-paced world, a moment of pause and deep humanity, during which the universal language of understanding and affection prevails,” the poet evaluated the value that this emotional demonstration has today.


Not Alone was another action that Alejandro Roemmers promoted in 2023, where the center was placed on the hug

On the one hand, he pointed out that the pandemic “has made us rediscover the fundamental importance of human contact, of physical contact.” In that sense, he observed: “The hug, something that we could previously take for granted, became an act loaded with meaning, longing, and sometimes even defiance.”

This is accentuated when taking into account technology and its influence today. “The digital age, with its pros and cons, has highlighted the lack of warmth and presence that only direct human contact can offer.” In any case, he stressed that technology “can be used as a means to transmit love, and not just violence or sad images.” In this regard, he noted: “As a society, we could use social networks to embrace each other fraternally, instead of transmitting hatred. “We cannot stop a war, but we can change consciousness through these networks.”