Cozy Christmas traditions bring cheer to holidays


Art by Ruiqi Gao

Christmas is one of the most beloved holidays. Every year people all around the world engage in fun winter activities such as snowball fights, decorating Christmas trees, and baking cookies. The list of exciting opportunities goes on. Have you ever wondered why this specific season brings out the happiest feelings in us? In a nutshell Christmas and its qualities remind us of simpler times in our lives—our childhoods. These memories of times spent opening presents on Christmas morning or drinking hot cocoa or just being with family bring out our inner children. We feel happier and therefore grow stronger connections to the holiday. “In a world full of stress and anxiety, people like to associate to things that make them happy, and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of childhood,” psychoanalyst Steve McKeown told Unilad, “Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So, putting up those Christmas decorations early extends the excitement!” The joy we feel from the nostalgia surrounding Christmas can influence dopamine and serotonin levels in our brains. These chemicals in our bodies increase our happiness. This causes us to have an increased connection to this holiday since it provides us with more joy than others. Now, it could be argued that the same levels of dopamine and serotonin can be triggered around other events. This could be true if you have stronger memories that connect you to those events. It is possible for your personal option surrounding certain holidays or events to be different from others. It all depends on the things you experience and feel at times in your life. For example, if you have strong memories of good times around the fourth of July, it could boost the levels of serotonin and/or dopamine that your brain produces around the fourth of July. The memories increase joy, which increases the chemicals in your brain, which increases your connection to that holiday or event. Christmas, most commonly associated with nostalgia, brings out the most joyous feelings which is why it is so rare to hear someone claim, “Bah Humbug” during the Christmas season.