22 Jun 2024
Stockholm Today: the Hug-Thy-Neighbour Campaign
Swedish Culture What's on: Stockholm

Stockholm Today: the Hug-Thy-Neighbour Campaign

After recent Swedish media reports have outed Swedes as hug-aholics, a small group of Stockholmers have decided to build on this – for a more friendly future.

“It is ridiculous to think that we will hug just about any Sven, Nils and Leffe but we don’t know who our next door neighbour is,” Hug-Thy-Neighbour Campaign organizer Svea Svenzon tells YLC over coffee and some piping hot cinnamon buns.

Having met at a carpet-weaving seminar on Söder two years ago, the group (which specializes in traditional hand-woven carpets, wheat grass dye and guerilla monopoly) finally think the time is right to launch the project that they have been spinning together along with the yarn.

To encourage more neighbourly affection, this small group of embrace-enthusiasts are aiming to create a platform for the Swedish people to engage with each other; to reach out and hug their fellow man.

“We received the good news this weekend – that someone finally zoned in on the inherent wish to hug that lies dormant within every Swede – and we decided to go for it! We’re not expecting a miracle – all we hope to achieve is for as many as possible to reach out to their neighbour – and give them a good squeeze – if only for this one day a year.”

According to Svenzon, there are no limits to how many neighbours one potentially COULD hug in a day. And neighbour can be interpreted in so many ways, according to the group.

“When we started this we thought mainly about people living in the same building or on the same street – but to be honest, ANYONE could be your neighbour; someone sitting next to you on the metro, your kids’ teachers, your boss – the sky is the limit,” said Per Persson, the group’s social media guru, responsible for public relations and yarn acquisition.

He proposes that successful neighbour-hugs be perpetuated in selfies, which he predicts will spread like wildfire and revolutionize the way we think – and feel – about Sweden today. The hashtag #wheatgrassandlove is proposed, but the jury is still out on that one.

However, the group is working on an idea to incorporate the images and the wheat grass dyed carpets in an exhibition over the summer, with the working title Sweden Loves to Squeeze (pun regarding wheatgrass intended).

When asked if this scheme was just for hug-friendly Swedes or if anyone could join in, Svenzon and Persson enthusiastically encouraged everyone – even hug-shy expats – to take part in their canoodling crusade.

“We have space for everyone in our arms,” they beamed.

So there you have it, YLC peeps, let April 1st forever be known as the Hug-Thy-Neighbour Day in Stockholm. Hang on, isn’t that date taken…


Featured Image: Jouris Louwes/Flickr

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