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Swedes love to hug

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13:01 CET+01:00
A random encounter with a Swede is very likely to lead the unsuspecting novice into an impromptu hugging situation, according to new statistics from the Red Cross.

In a survey of 1,000 Swedes over the age of 16, some 94 percent said that they had dished out a hug during the last week.

In Småland, however, an area renowned for its frugality, people were less likely to clasp their fellow citizens in a warm embrace.

The survey also showed that the frequency of hugs began to taper off as people became older.

In a bid to remedy this, the Swedish Red Cross has just launched its "Hugs for the Lonely" drive, which will run from December 1st to 21st.

The campaign is going national this year after a local Red Cross chapter in Västerås, 100 kilometres west of Stockholm, made around 300,000 kronor selling embraces last year.

"Our idea is to break through the isolation felt by many people all over Sweden ... We want people to feel close and connected for Christmas," communications director Johan af Donner told AFP, adding that the aid organization hoped to make 25 million kronor ($4 million) on its pre-holiday campaign.

The proceeds will be used to help pay for the organization's work in Sweden, including paying visits to people who are lonely and in need of company, and for the recruitment of more volunteers.

TT/The Local/AFP

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