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Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden

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Commuters hugging it out at Centralen Station. Photo: Charlotte Rudenstam
17:25 CEST+02:00
Huddles of huggers littered the Central Station concourse in Stockholm, just ten days after The Local dissected The Swedish Hug. "I've spent my life wondering why people don't hug more," one flash mobster said.

From 5pm onwards, huggers got a-hugging in Sweden. The Expressen newspaper was on the scene, recording every hug.

"It's such a nice start to the weekend," one hugger told them, a huge smile on his face. Behind him, a man in an orange sweater embraced a slightly shorter woman. 
 
Video from the main concourse at Stockholm's Central station showed cluster of huggers in front of the arrivals and departures board. Expressen also reported that a similar event was taking place in southern city Malmö. 
 
Another male hugger said embracing was "magical" and healthy, "because hugs calm you down", while a woman said she felt people should hug more. 
 
"I've spent my life wondering why people don't hug more," she told Expressen.
 
The topic of Swedes' propensity for a good hug made it into the news last week after The Local's Oliver Gee addressed the topic as a strange cultural quirk. 
 
"It's all a bit confusing for me, especially as Swedes usually enjoy their privacy," the Australian reporter wrote in his original article, which was also picked up by Svenska Dagbladet. "I still go for the handshake every time and people recoil. It's become so bad that I have a reputation among my friends as a non-hugger."
 
Flash mob organizer Charlotte Rudenstam said she had been thinking about the flash mob for weeks, but that she had blogged about Gee's article, which acted as a catalyst for pushing the hugathon from idea to reality. 
 
"Hugging is so popular in Sweden, we love a good, long hug, and that's what people are doing here today," Rudenstam told The Local on Friday.  "We need more loving in our life, so we thought: Why not start out the world's first ever hugging flash mob?"
 
Gee's article earned him an invite to talk Swedish etiquette on breakfast show Nyhetsmorgon on TV4, where the grande dame of good manners, Magdalena Ribbing, embraced him on air.
 

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As the flash mob wrapped up at Stockholm's Centralen, the organizer said she hoped the trend would spread. And she said she hoped people would hug not just more, but for longer.
 
"People are taking 20-second hugs - that way you can really feel the love flow through you," Rudenstam said.
 
See Oliver trying to hug Swedes

 

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