From birthdays to weddings and graduations, this 12 months has seen many private celebrations cancelled, whereas communal festivities equivalent to Bonfire Night time, Eid and Diwali both haven’t been celebrated or have been extra subdued. So it’d really feel tempting to downplay Christmas too, particularly with considerations that folks mixing extra freely may result in a 3rd wave of COVID-19.
Nonetheless, it will likely be extra vital this 12 months than ever earlier than to have interaction within the celebrations and rituals of Christmas and New Yr. There’s loads of proof to recommend that coming into wholeheartedly into the spirit of the season – whereas preserving to 2020’s limitations – might be excellent for our psychological well being. After a tricky 12 months, this could be precisely what we want.
Christmas has vital social, cultural and non secular capabilities. For folks of all faiths (and none), the Christmas holidays convey folks and households collectively to replicate on the 12 months passed by and sit up for the following.
The sociologist Émile Durkheim used the time period “collective effervescence” to explain the constructive temper we really feel after we participate in social actions that convey collective pleasure and make us really feel a part of a much bigger neighborhood. Durkheim was writing about giant spiritual gatherings, however researchers have argued extra just lately that this similar feeling will be skilled in smaller items when household or mates get collectively.
We see this collective effervescence at Christmas time. Analysis has proven that this spirit of Christmas manifests as a mess of constructive emotions and behaviours which are skilled collectively, together with better altruism, goodwill and generosity. This occurs to such an extent that some have argued that Christmas cheer could possibly be an emotion in its personal proper.
Though we will’t do every thing we usually would this 12 months, restrictions might be easing over Christmas within the UK and in sure European nations. This implies we will, if we select to, nonetheless expertise a few of this effervescence.
The constructive energy of formality
The favored adage that the very best a part of going out is preparing – that the journey is extra vital than the vacation spot – recognises that rituals are vital in their very own proper. Routines and rituals supply construction and predictability in our lives and carry out vital psychological capabilities to handle nervousness. With charges of tension hovering in lockdown, something we will do to handle our psychological well being is to be welcomed.
Rituals have been described as particular person items of motion that type a sequence or sample that’s repeated in a selected approach, and that are imbued with private symbolism and that means. For Christmas, these particular person items usually embody spiritual observances, shopping for presents, events, pantomimes, carol singing, ice skating, and Christmas markets, to not point out the food and drinks that we love a lot throughout this time of the 12 months – mince pies, panettone, stollen, mulled wine.
This 12 months many individuals put up Christmas decorations sooner than typical to attempt to raise the overall temper. There’s proof that this may work, as analysis exhibits that Christmas rituals particularly can play a job in creating a way of wellbeing and satisfaction. They evoke recollections of different instances in our lives when we have now gone via the identical rituals. Each time we put up Christmas decorations, our mind fires up our saved up festive emotions.
That is why it’s vital to keep up rituals related to celebrations: even when we gained’t be experiencing occasions in the identical approach, our brains will nonetheless reply positively. Even Christmas smells can evoke recollections of previous instances. Although we’re in utterly totally different circumstances now, confronted with these stimuli our brains will make us really feel comfortable by triggering comfortable recollections.
Rituals additionally play a key position in social cohesion, as these within the UK noticed with the “clap for carers” in the summertime. When our conventional rituals are disrupted, this challenges the notion of who we’re as a social group. Following a 12 months the place we have now had a lot disruption in our routines and rituals already, and folks have reported feeling more and more remoted, Christmas rituals can supply us a way of connection once more.
Festivities additionally usually spotlight the issues we have now to be pleased about, and this gratitude may also enhance our sense of wellbeing. And even when we will’t be with family members, spending time catching up on the telephone or on-line may also help to spice up our temper. Simply reminiscing over previous comfortable recollections could make us really feel happier within the current.
Celebrating wholeheartedly could really feel tough when the celebrations are constrained and many people have skilled loss, however the rituals related to Christmas traditions may also help us to remain constructive. Celebrations can enhance our appreciation for the constructive parts in our lives, and can draw upon shops of constructive emotion that we’ve constructed via reminiscence. So go forward and put up that Christmas tree. Even when there gained’t be as many individuals gathering round it this 12 months, it ought to nonetheless make you’re feeling higher.
Nilufar Ahmed doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that may profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.