I grew up in an Asian-American household. My father immigrated from China in 1974. My mother joined my father in the United States a few years later. She is from Davao City in the Philippines.
We never said, “I love you,” or hugged each other at all when I was growing up.
Sometimes, I wonder how much of an effect this has had on me. I am definitely not as stoic as my father was.
I thought it was interesting that in 2006 Chinese people participated in a Free Hugs campaign. The movement was started in Australia and its purpose is to spread random acts of kindness to make people feel better.
Apparently, in China hugging is rare and the campaign did not take off. I’ve heard that touching of others is seldom initiated in Eastern society and that people keep their emotions under control.
I asked my co-worker, who is from Vietnam, if her upbringing sans hugs was similar. She said yes. She said that a casual hug does not mean much to her. She only hugs when she really means it.
I have never been to China. I plan to see the city where my dad grew up. I have a grandmother who I have not seen in 20 years there. I’m sure I will stick out like a sore thumb.
International Free Hugs Day is celebrated on the first Saturday of July.