Every Christmas, you can look forward to the same magical things: a delicious festive dinner, decorating the tree and munching down on mince pies. Another that marks the beginning of the most exciting part of the year is Christmas songs. While the way we listen to them may have changed – you have ditched the CDs for your Beats headphones and a tailor-made playlist– the festive season would not be the same without it.
From classics like Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and the soulful Jackson 5’s Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, to everyone’s favourite, Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You, there are some amazing tunes to choose from.
But why do Christmas songs make us feel happy?
Undoubtedly for many people, nostalgia plays a huge part in their love and positive attitude towards Christmas songs. Their happy, jingle bell-filled melodies evoke warm, fuzzy and comfortable feelings, instantly uplifting spirits.
Numerous studies have already confirmed the link between music and increased happiness, as well as the ability to recall emotions when hearing familiar songs. As such, because a lot of Christmas songs are tied with happy, festive memories, these songs trigger the emotional and memory centres of our brains, making us feel happy and nostalgic.
As songs we only hear for a short period once a year, one of the biggest reasons is novelty. For most of us, we start listening to festive songs in November and stop at the end of December. So, when November arrives, this means we have not heard our favourite festive hits for approximately 10 months, providing a bit of fun and novelty.
How would you describe your favourite Christmas songs? You would probably use words like cheerful, and as a team of researchers found out, there is a reason for this.
In 2017, a group of scientists analysed the 200 most streamed songs for the week of Christmas 2016. Of this number, they found 78 were Christmas hits and studied these further, breaking down their composition and structure. They found these songs had a lot in common, from similar chord progressions, tempos and keys, to instruments and themes (including home, love and snow).
The team realised that many of our most beloved Christmas songs follow a similar formula, one that has been designed to be easy to sing and make listeners feel happy.
Finally, Christmas songs allow us to escape and get lost in something magical. At a time of year that can be busy, stressful and sometimes emotional, this music is uplifting and jolly, allowing us to forget about our worries and enjoy the festive fun.
There you have it, four big reasons why Christmas music can have a positive impact and make us all feel a little and brighter. Additionally, research has also shown that putting up your decorations earlier can make you feel happier, too. Looks like we all have an excuse to embrace the festive spirit and blast our favourite tunes!
This is a collaborative post