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History of Free Hugs Day

Free Hugs Day is an international movement which involves a person offering free hugs to passing strangers in a public. It is usually celebrated on the first Saturday of July.

The movement was started in 2004 by Juan Mann, an Australian man who had just come back home to Sydney. Whilst going through a tough period in his life because of personal difficulties, he received a unsolicited hug from a random stranger. Realising the simple joy that can be gleaned from a simple hug, he took to the streets with a simple "FREE HUGS" sign. Although the movement started slowly, the campaign gathered momentum and soon Mann had an army of fellow huggers giving out hugs on the streets of Sydney. In October 2004 he received notice from the police that he should cease his campaign as he didn't have the required public liability insurance to hug strangers in a public place. A petition was organised and 10,000 signatures later he was allowed to continue.

The movement started to gain more publicity and international recognition in 2006. The band Skinny Puppy who were friends with Mann released a video onto the Internet featuring their latest single "All the Same". The video was a compilation of footage Shimon Moore the lead singer had filmed between 2004 and 2005 of Mann and his fellow huggers. The video was a smash hit and helped spread the word about Free Hugs Day through the world. The video is still one of the most watched videos of all time on YouTube. Mann was invited onto the highly popular Oprah Winfrey show in the USA as a result of the video. Before the show was recorded Mann had stood outside the studio offering free hugs to passers by and audience members.

As a result of this new found recognition, Free Hugs Day has become a worldwide phenomenon. Every year more and more people take part in Free Hugs Day. On July 7 2007 the first International Free Hugs Day took place with people all over the world taking part.

James King
Thu, 22 Apr 2010 14:47:22 +0000

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