December 2023 – The Nostalgia of Winter

The Nostalgia of Winter

By Madison Lysiak

Every year without fail we always seem to get that nostalgic feeling in winter. Whether it’s sitting by the fire, opening gifts, watching movies with family, dinner, etc. We always have this feeling of remembering this time when we were younger. I was curious as to why we get so sentimental about the holidays and that no matter how old or how young you are you still have this longing for the memories of the holidays through younger eyes. 

Psychologist Jacob Juhl explains this nostalgia as an occurrence that derives from repeating past actions over the years. The traditions of family dinners, sitting around opening presents, and watching classic Christmas movies are all things that you have been doing every year. It’s analogous to doing a crossword puzzle, but half the words are already filled in. It makes finding the other words easier. This works in the sense of the human brain, when we repeat the same actions every year for tradition, we remember doing these things in the past and it becomes a trigger for that holiday nostalgia. 

Neuroscientist and author, Dean Burnett also helps us understand why we have such strong memories from childhood, writing, “Our strongest memories will come from our childhood. When we are developing, our childhood experiences tend to be the most formative. And it’s not logical. A lot of the things our brain prioritizes when it comes to experiences are emotion. Strong, emotional memories will usually override objectively useful ones.” He goes on to talk about how our brain prioritizes memories where we felt such strong emotions and how the holidays brought many of those feelings. 

The same thing goes for the holiday music. We hear the same songs from the decades and it brings in the nostalgia of tradition, and also the science behind music. It is said that music brings us all a form of comfort and enjoyment, so when you mix that with the holiday season you get a lot of feelings. The nostalgia of winter is a never-ending cycle of reminiscing and enjoyment throughout the years. Enjoying these memories and coming back every year without fail is one of the most exciting parts of the holiday season.

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