Does Christmas music make you feel warm and fuzzy?

Christmas has always been my favourite holiday. Seeing familiar, decorative symbols and memorabilia plastered about town puts me in the mood to decorate my home, and play Christmas-themed music. With Christmas being celebrated close to the end of the year, it also seems like a reasonable culmination of the year.

What I like most about Christmas is the atmosphere Christmas music creates; it is as if you could really feel the spirit of life, love, and longing. Writer Cory Stieg shares a few possible psychological explanations why Christmas music can give you the feels, in his article:

“Nostalgia is an intriguing sensation, because it can make you feel happy and sad at the same time.” Research has shown that music has strong ties with emotions. Depending on the type of music you listen to at different points in your life, music has the ability to evoke a whole range of feelings.
According to Brian Rabinovitz, PhD, a neuroscientist who specialises in musical cognition, Christmas music tend to have predictable melodies, and is often “structured in a way that makes it innately pleasing”. Music you hear for the first time gets tracked in your brain’s prefrontal cortex. Your brain will then be always searching for that melody. Each time you hear that song, the song patterns become even more obvious. So, when you hear it again, it can be very satisfying, he adds.

While some of us may feel festive and joyful listening to Christmas music because of previous positive associations, others may feel wishful or wistful. Holiday music can also have a negative impact on one’s mental health. Writer Melody Wilding shares why, in her article:

Initially, Christmas music may spark nostalgia and get you into the spirit of celebration. But hearing the same Christmassy music incessantly for a period of time can lead to annoyance, boredom, and even distress, say researchers. According to Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, Christmas music can be mentally draining in a variety of ways.
The inundation of Christmas music can cause the brain to become oversaturated, reminding listeners of other stressors of the holiday season, such as finances, work or family. And with Christmas music played almost everywhere in shopping areas, people may spend all their energy trying to tune it out so that they can focus on what they actually need to do.

While I enjoy the Christmas season for what it can bring (fellowship, intimate gatherings, good food!), it also tires me out easily, and sometimes triggers negative feelings. How can one strike the right balance of good cheer, and ensure it does not drive you crazy?

  • Plan ahead – If you know this week is packed with Christmas events, try to keep the next week Christmas-free, so you can enjoy your usual routines without drowning in the holiday buzz
  • Plug in your own music – You need to get shopping done, but cannot avoid the mall music. Put your earphones on and blast your own playlist, music that will put you in the mood to shop effectively
  • Invite your other senses to share the joy of the holiday season – Listening to Christmas music is not the only way to celebrate. Smelling the gingerbread cookies, tasting that eggnog, or snuggling in your Christmas-print PJs, can also rouse happy feelings
  • Presents VS Presence – It can be easy to get all wrapped up with gifting that you forget that presents are not as important as your presence. What are you really giving?
  • Mindful Merrymaking – While we do not want to completely escape our responsibilities and committments, we can put them aside for a while, and just enjoy the moment with our loved ones

This was the song I grew up with, and is still one of my best-loved among all the Christmas tunes. I would like to share it with you, and I hope you will feel all warm and fuzzy too, and be surrounded by love and hope, during this season of giving and gratitude.

Warm & Fuzzy

Billy Gilman

Sleigh bells ringing, choirs singing
Wonder what ol’ Santa’s bringing
It’s the warm and fuzzy time of year
Snowflakes fall, the temp’ is dropping
Families out together shopping
It’s the warm and fuzzy time of year
Elves are working overtime
Making all our toys
Reindeer hooves on all the roofs
Of good little girls and boys
Big ol’ cups of steaming cider
Fall asleep by a cozy fire
It’s the warm and fuzzy time of year
Santa’s on his way
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From all of us at Bloom School of Music & Arts,
here’s wishing all of you a blessed, Merry Christmas!
And a wonderful New Year ahead in 2021!