World Hello Day - friendliness, connectedness and tolerance

By Eugene Clark
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 21, 2015
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Students welcome World Hello Day on Nov 21 by holding smiling cartoon faces and paper-cuts reading "Hello" to passers-by at Liaocheng University in East China's Shandong province on Nov 20, 2012.[Photo by Zhang Zhenxiang/Asianewsphoto]

The 21st of November is World Hello Day. In contrast to the intolerance and lack of humanity shown by the bombing of innocent people in Paris and blowing up of a Russian airline killing innocent passengers, World Hello Day calls upon us to be friendly, to acknowledge one another, strengthen the bonds that unite us and demonstrate tolerance. As author Suzy Kassem wrote: "Each time you say hello to a stranger, your heart acknowledges over and over again that we are all family."

One thing I deeply appreciated about growing up in a small mid-western town was that everyone said hello, even to complete strangers. This simple gesture creates a wave of warmth that spreads through the whole community. This simple kindness of saying hello can make all the difference to a person feeling depressed, lonely and isolated. A simple hello can change a life. I personally have witnessed how elderly and depressed people light up when one recognizes and greets them with the simple gesture of saying "hello."

World Hello Day has been going since 1973. It was the brainchild of Brian McCormack who was a graduate of Arizona State University and Michael McCormack from Harvard. The idea of the day was in reaction to the Yom Kippur War and sought to do something small, but on a wide scale, to encourage communication and thus promote world peace. It is now grown to be observed in almost every country in the world. People around the world are asked to participate in World Hello Day by saying hello to at least 10 people.

The word "hello" was said to be popularized when it was used by Thomas Edison in the first public test of the telephone. Therefore, perhaps it is especially appropriate on this day to call someone you haven't talked to in quite awhile and to just say "hello." In terms of its history, Fowler's suggests it was used by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his famous, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in 1798:

And the good south wind still blew behind,

But no sweet bird did follow,

Nor any day for food or play

Came to the mariners' hollo!

Another theory is that it came from the word hallo (1840) via hollo (also holla, holloa, halloo, halloa). The definition of hollo is to shout or exclaim "Hollo" when the prize is spotted. This is illustrated in Shakespeare's line: "If I fly, Marcius, Halloo me like a hare." [Coriolanus (1.viii.7)]

Many leading people and influential people have supported the concept of World Hello Day including numerous Nobel Peace Prize winners, authors, entertainers and political leaders.

One of my favorite quotes reflects the philosophy underlying World Hello Day: "Not every day is good, but there is something good in every day." Find the good and, as far as possible, BE the good in the day of everyone you meet. One of the simple ways of making the day a good one is to share a simple, "Hello!" and thereby focus on the many things that unite us and that we have in common. This is the basis of tolerance that will lead to mutual respect and growth rather than the destruction we have so sadly witnessed this past week in Paris.

Say hello in 40 languages. So, to all readers in the many languages, I would just like to say "Hello" and thank you for reading. Hope you have a peaceful, happy and productive day.

The author is a columnist with For more information please visit:

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