TIME curiosities

Celebrate National Hugging Day With History’s Most Enthusiastic Huggers

National Hugging Day has been held annually on Jan. 21 since 1986

LIFE magazine dispatched its world-class photographers to cover significant world events—battles and elections, state dinners and tragedies—but it also took pains to cover events of more quotidian significance. One example: hugs.

Whether between mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, children and puppies, lovers or friends, images of people embracing provide a counterbalance to the graver images that so often fill the news. On Jan. 21, as National Hugging Day reminds us of the many psychological benefits of a squeeze, LIFE looks back at its most joyful images of hugs.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

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