It’s easy to snicker when you see houses decked out in festive lights and reindeer on the lawn just weeks into November.
But next time you see a Christmas tree glittering in a window hold your tongue, ’cause the people who are already in the spirit have something you may not: happiness.
That’s right, Scrooge — according to the experts, all those ornaments actually make people happier.
Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown, founder of MindFixers and the owner of the McKeown Clinic, spoke to Unilad on the psychological reasoning behind why people put up Christmas decorations long before Santa comes to town, noting that for some people, it extends the excitement of Christmas.
“Although there could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early, most commonly for nostalgic reasons either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect.
“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 the childhood. Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extend the excitement!”
Nostalgia is a huge reason why people put up their decorations come November, as it makes them reconnect with happier days of the past.
“The holiday season stirs up a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia helps link people to their personal past and it helps people understand their identity. For many putting up Christmas decorations early is a way for them to reconnect with their childhoods,” Amy Morin, a psychotherapist, told Unilad.
“It may be a bittersweet feeling. Perhaps the holidays serve as a reminder of when a loved one was still alive. Or maybe looking at a Christmas tree reminds someone of what life was like when they still believed in Santa.
“For people who have lost a loved one, the holidays may serve as a reminder of happy times they had with that person in the past. Decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual.”
Funny enough, Christmas music can have the opposite effect.
According to clinical psychologist Linda Blair, festive tunes can be mentally draining if you’re exposed to them over a long period of time.
“People working in the shops at Christmas have to [tune out] Christmas music, because if they don’t, it really does stop you from being able to focus on anything else,” Blair told Sky News. “You’re simply spending all of your energy trying not to hear what you’re hearing.”
And because many malls and stores start blasting “Jingle Bells” over the speakers right after Halloween, most people are sick of this forced Christmas cheer by mid-November. Known as the “mere exposure effect,” this psychological reaction can literally make you feel as if you’re “going crazy,” according to music psychology researcher Dr. Victoria Williamson.
So, if you haven’t dug out those boxes with all your decorations yet, it might be a good time to start. Just don’t listen to “All I Want For Christmas Is You” until at least Dec. 1.