Are you one of those people that roll your eyes when you spot Christmas lights going up in the neighbour’s front yard in mid November? Stop being such a Scrooge and embrace it – it may just be better for your health!
We’ve got psychoanalyst Steve McKeown to thank for this bit of news. According to Mr. McKeown, those who get their festive decorations up earlier are typically more content and excited about life. "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,” the psychoanalyst stated. "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.”
The actual science behind this phenomenon points to numerous different reasons to which we can attribute this spark of happiness. Whether or not it’s a warm feeling of nostalgia for Christmas past, or excitement for the festivities that come along with the holiday season (surely time off work and school, right?), the fact remains that these sometimes outrageous monuments are the key to making it through the winter. Indeed, McKeon suggests: "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 extends the excitement!”
It has also been suggested that people like to get their home ready for Christmas festivities early because it helps bring back the memory of a loved one and the warm nostalgia of spending time with them around Christmas. Alongside that, early decorating is also associated with pleasant childhood memories and the excitement one used to feel as Christmas was coming around. Especially when we had that point in our lives when Santa felt truly real. Those were the days, eh?
Another perk? With the emotional stuff aside, putting up Christmas decorations earlier can make the difference of whether you're the Grinch or the Buddy the Elf of your neighbourhood. According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, putting up early decorations outside of your home makes you appear more friendly and sociable since they can act as ‘cues as a way of communicating their accessibility to neighbors’. This is was tested when participants were shown homes with decorations and those without, where they were then asked to assess the sociability of the homeowner. When the results were gathered, it was clear that homes that did have decorations were representing the homeonwer as more 'friendly and cohesive'. So, if any of you cynics out there have walked past and scowled at that nice family's extravagant decorations in November, you ought to take note from them!
So, if you haven't already, get cracking on those Christmas lights and contribute a little Christmas cheer to the neighbourhood.