National Hug Day in Japan Date in the current year: August 9, 2024

National Hug Day in Japan National Hug Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated in Japan on August 9. On this day, people give hugs to their family, friends and even strangers (of course, after asking permission first, since personal boundaries are important).

There are several Hug Days, or Hugging Days, celebrated across the world. For example, National Hugging Day in the United States is celebrated on January 21 because the date falls roughly between the Christmas holiday season and Valentine’s Day when people are generally in low spirits and need some cheering up. And what can cheer up better than a hug?

In Japan, the choice of date for National Hug Day is not accidental as well. Due to the specifics of the Japanese language, many pronunciations have several different spellings and meanings. These homophones are widely used in wordplay. The date of National Hug Day is an example of such wordplay: the numbers 9 and 8 (the ninth day of the eight month) are pronounced similar to hagu, Japanese for “hug”.

In general, public hugs and other displays of affection (friendly or romantic) are not typical for the Japanese, but situation has somewhat changed in recent years because of the influence of Western culture. National Hug Day is a reflection of this change: to celebrate it, young Japanese participate in flash mobs, offering free hugs to passers-by.

But why are hugs so important? Hug is a form of non-verbal communication that is universal in human communities. Depending on culture, contexts and relationship, hugs can indicate endearment, affection, friendship, brotherhood, love, familiarity, sympathy, consolation, comfort, support, and the joy of meeting someone you haven’t seen for a long time.

Scientists have proven that welcome and mutual hugs have certain health benefits. For example, a hug that lasts 20 seconds or longer reduces blood pressure and makes your body release oxytocin, a hormone that reduces the feeling of fear and anxiety and makes you feel calmer. Along with serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, oxytocin is often referred to as a “happiness hormone”.

So Hug Day is a great occasion to boost your oxytocin levels! Even if you’re not in Japan, go and hug someone you care about.

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Unofficial Holidays



National Hug Day, holidays in Japan, Japanese holidays, unofficial observances