The Story Behind The ‘Free Hugs Tartu’

On 5 December, a bunch of international students at UT decided to share some love and positiveness with random people around the city. Five brave guys: Lexo (Georgia), Bram (Belgium), Miky (Spain), Vignesh (India) and Jan-Hendrik (Netherlands) headed to the Town Hall square carrying posters saying ‘Free Hugs’ and the Estonian equivalent:  ‘Jagan kallistust‘. The girls Andrea (Slovakia), Joanna (Poland) and Daria (Russia) joined in later. Mirac (Turkey) captured the whole endeavor and produced an adorable video:

After the video was released, I interviewed Jan-Hendrik, one of the huggers, on Twitter:

@ How long did your 'free hugging' mission last and how many hugs did you give - did you count?
@TartuUniversity
University of Tartu

@ We were hugging for about 1 hour, and on our way back to the dorm we continued offering hugs to people on our way. [1/2]
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ Not all hugs are on the video. Mirac made a selection of the best ones. I gave so many hugs that I could not. [2/2]
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ ...so many hugs you could not count?
@TartuUniversity
University of Tartu
@ Exactly (I forgot the last word).
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ The video by Mirac starts w/ a "fail" & police - what actually happened?
@TartuUniversity
University of Tartu
@ We actually wanted to start hugging at the main square, but sadly enough the police didn't allow us to do it there.
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ Did they give any reason - why not?
@TartuUniversity
University of Tartu
@ They said something in Estonian which we could not understand. Actually we still don't no why. But we went to the library.
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ Seemed like a good place for hugging? 🙂
@TartuUniversity
University of Tartu
@ Yes, indeed. People there really needed a hug after hard studying. 😉
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ Did it require a lot of courage (you probably knew that Estonian people aren't very open)?
@TartuUniversity
University of Tartu
@ Yeah, I've been told that Estonians are not very open and that they don't like hugs at all. [1/2]
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ That was not our experience. Some didn't want to hug with strangers, but the same would happen in other cities I think.
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ Did you enjoy the hugging yourself? 😉
@TartuUniversity
University of Tartu
@ Yeah, it was wonderful to do it! I'm sure my co-huggers to agree with that. I was a great initiative by Lexo.
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ So it's you, Lexo, who else? Where are you all from, what do you study?
@TartuUniversity
University of Tartu
@ The hug-crew consisted of Lexo (Georgia), Bram (Belgium), Miky (Spain), Vignesh (India) and me (Netherlands). [1/2]
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ Later we were assisted by the girls Andrea (Slovakia) and Joanna (Poland). [1/2]
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ And the video was perfectly made by Mirac (Turkey). He did a great job!
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ Indeed - the video is awesome! Where did the hugging idea come from & how long did you prepare?
@TartuUniversity
University of Tartu
@ Lexo discovered an international campaign called Free Hugs. It started with a lonely passenger who just landed in London.
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ He saw people meeting and hugging all the time, and wanted the same. So he made a poster saying 'Free Hugs'.
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ We just made the banners, that was more or less our preparation. 😉
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ So it was pretty much spontaneous from your side? You did not discuss it for weeks before going out?
@TartuUniversity
University of Tartu
@ No, the idea was just born 2 days before. Lexo gathered some enthusiastic huggers and we did it.
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ Any particular reason why there weren't any female huggers among you?
@TartuUniversity
University of Tartu
@ Well, as I mentioned before later the girls (you also see on the video) joined us. 😉
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ Ok 🙂 And finally - would you do it again & why?
@TartuUniversity
University of Tartu
@ We received many positive comments. I would be very to happy to do it agian - for example in my own country when I'm back.
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.
@ It is wonderful to share some love and postiviness with each other. I loved it! 😉
@Giovanni_vS
Jan-Hendrik van S.

Did this story inspire you? How would you share love and positive attitude with people around you?

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  • LOVE it! So positive, inspiring and warm! (like a hug :))

  • You can’t help but get a smile watching this.  Should try free group hugs.  Would be fun to watch the reactions.  Also would be interesting to keep some stats. Check out http://obama-approval-rating.info to see if Obama needs a hug LOL

    • Free group hugs sounds like a fun idea – the more, the merrier 🙂