Monday, August 27, 2007

Romanic Hugs

Surprisingly, out of no where someone walks up to you with a beaming genuine smile and with open arms offers you a simple well-intentioned hug! What would you do? Would you refuse the hug and push them away? If so, is that a cultural thing?

Last fall, around 7 ragazzi took to the historic center of Rome with large bilingual "Free Hugs" signs and the reaction to this story was overwhelmingly positive and heart warming!



Whereas today I read a story about an 18 year old college student in Utah whose parents helped her prepare for a unique event… a HUGS event! Under the watchful eye of a judge and senator, she gave 765 hugs in an hour to enter Guinnes World Records for the most hugs in an hour. "I feel like I'm on cloud nine,' Pearce said after the last hug Saturday."

The interesting thing is that in this country I heard very negative reactions to the hug story! It puzzled me. Why be offensive? What's the harm in a hug? I was left scratching my head in amazement. Huh?

Then I took a look around me. 7 million people in the Bay Area. We have an enormous front yard, side gardens, and back yard. It does a good job of keeping my neighbors away, and fencing me in. We get in our car in the garage while a remote control opens the sliding door and I vanish with thousands of cars in to crowded free-ways. We've built social walls around ourselves! I try to look into my neighbor's eyes to say hello, and many look puzzled and uncomfortable, so now instead I let them be.

After the "Free Hugs Campaign in Rome" video was posted on YouTube, the Italian messages where overwhelmingly positive. I found that heart warming!

So, two different cultures react very differently to "hug stories". Is that a cultural thing? Hmm...

When offered a free hug in downtown Rome, people's reactions fell into a bell curve consisting of 4 categories.

1) A few people were very enthusiastic and RAN with open arms for the hug with a big grin on their face.

2) Many others just smiled and gladly took a tight hug.

3) Others pretend not to notice, and simply walked away from the hug.

4) A few get upset and flat out rejected the hug.

I would have definitely taken the hug with a smile! :) Would you run for a hug, or roll your eyes and walk away?

Watch the toll blond guy in minute 2:46, his response made me laugh! Grande!

Some of you are just returning home from a long vacation! There are errands to run, groceries to buy, and work/school routines waiting for you. Big hugs to you as you begin your week! :)

22 comments:

Caroline in Rome said...

Hey, I remember the free hugs campaign. It was in Piazzo del Popolo, right in front of via del Corso! The Frenchman, in true French fashion, gladly chose the most attractive girl and gave her a hug (and maybe even the kiss on each cheek). In true Anglo-Saxon style, I said no thanks but maybe next time, I'll indulge...

jessica in rome said...

Cool! It's nice to see people doing good stuff in the world-

L'√Čtrang√®re Americaine said...

I'm guilty of walking away from the hug givers in Union Square and in the East Village of NYC :(

La delirante said...

I must admit I wouldn't like to be hugged out of the blue by a stranger :) I think a hug without a sentimental connection is not really a hug...but then again, I might be wrong :) In any case, that is my experience, if I hug and I don't feel anything I am merely touching the other person but not transmiting and receiving that "energy" or feeling of warmth, at the same time.

I like cyber hugs. They are nice because one can really feel that energy even through cyberspace :)

A hug Farfallina,

Wen.

Jul said...

I think that's such a great campaign! For some reason I can't see the Swiss getting into it...

The Late Bloomer said...

I AM just returning from a vacation away for almost 3 weeks, and I have LOADS of blogs to catch up on! Including yours, Farfellina -- I am so impressed and inspired by your journey, by all that you have already accomplished in your life by just making it happen -- by believing in yourself and your dream. I'd like to think that I'm going to take some of this, let it sink in for a bit, and try to apply it to my own life in the coming months and years. There is so much I still want and need to do, and I think I have simply allowed myself to be swallowed up by "fear and the rat race" as you mentioned in one of your comments...

So I just wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings here. Good luck to you on your journey, but I have a feeling you don't need any luck: you will make it all happen for yourself! You are overflowing with talent, motivation, discipline and determination. Brava! :)

Eryn said...

What a clever idea...so simple yet so impactful. I bet they made a lot of people have a brighter day.

hugs are so important, when all else fails, give someone a hug!

Chloe said...

people hug each other all the time in greece. usually not strangers, but i have seen you once and talked to you for some time, it is expected that next time i see you i will hug and kiss you on the cheek.

i am not sure about strangers hugging me though. i like the campaign, i think it is good to campaign for things like that. I would hug the person back but not feel very comfortable, to be honest.

qualcosa di bello said...

farfallina...thanks for posting this...

for the record, i would fly through the air, open arms, huge grin!!

blog hugs to you too :)

Calabrisella said...

thank you for the HUG! Nico and i were in Roma that fall and we got free hugs!... this year we did a very similar thing in Santa Monica Promenade... we got very intresting reactions... the energy flow is amazing... it makes one feel whole again.

baci e abbracci!
xoxoxox

bella said...

This is quite fascinating and voyeristically entertaining to read about.
I have to admit that I do not like hugs from strangers. Living in a big city I get a good bit of people coming into physical contact with my body that is claimed to be an accident (oops, I bumped into when the subway lurched and just happened to find my hand on your ass).
But I so hear you about the isolation and living such enclosed lives. It is good to really see others, to know you are no different really. And if a hug can do this, then I say go for it!

daisies said...

oh big hugs to you :) i definitely would have happily accepted the hug!! but i'm a fairly huggy person :)

Maria & Stefano said...

Too funny!!!
Hugs for you too:)

Astrid said...

I'd do like Qualcosa di Bello, go running with my arms open and a huge grin!!

It's about having fun, smiling and not taking one self too seriously. it's such a great initiative.

Devil Mood said...

Oh, there was a free hugs campaign in my town too and I thought it was so heart-warming and sweet.
I even got emotional when I saw the images. I'd probably be shy about hugging a stranger but I'd want to, because there are times when I really need one :)

Jeanne said...

Sending you hugs and smiles across the miles.......
Blessings
Love Jeanne

Expat Traveler said...

that is really cool. I remember them in Cali. Very cool video...

Cynthia Rae said...

Sending you a big hug from Emilia Romagna! The funny things about this is that Italians don't seem to hug each other much (I should say friends don't hug friends much). This was confusing to me when I first came here because, like the American I am, I always wanted to hug the friends I hadn't seen in a while. They, on the other hand, never went for a hug but rather the two (or sometimes three) cheek kisses.

So now I kiss my Italian friends when I see them, but as for my American friends living here... the always get a big, fat hug!

Thanks for checking in on me, even when I was MIA from the blog world! Looking forward to reading through your blog.

Cyn

Anonymous said...

i'm with cyn on this... i miss real HUGS in italy. the double kiss is nice and all but i find it rather impersonal. i tend to give my real friends a big bear hug here, they've gotten used to it after all these years!
i wouldn't been too keen on getting hugged by a stranger though, it would feel fake to me. to me a hug = closeness and friendship.

Farfallina - Roam 2 Rome said...

Ciao!!

I simply love these comments here! I've read them at least twice and love them! then I feel guilty for missing your blogs today :(

Meant to reply yesterday, but my 4 year old nephew decided it would be cute to lock me out of my room (laptop inside) yesterday.

For the life of me nooothing seemed to open that door! Finally, at night I tore down the screen and climbed through a window :) Grrrrrrrr...

Turns out him and his older sister "borrowed" my hour-glass clock from my room and took it home, but if the door is locked, I wouldn't know, would I? Grrrrrr...

It was their last day of summer break, so this must have been a good-bye trick for aunty!

I'll miss them when I'm in Italy... even the days when they bunch up and play tricks on me! :)

Grazie to everyone for the cyber-hugs! :)

Pauline said...

Great blog!! Just love that post! I think it's great people are doing that. You can see it's for fun and all, so it's all the better!

Giulia said...

What a sweet post. As for whether I would accept a hug from a stranger, it all depends. If I were in a secluded area and some stranger started walking up to me with arms open, I would probably scream and run. On the other hand, if I was in a group setting like in the video I would have gladly gone hug happy on those people! :)