When to start playing Christmas music is a big debate
It’s the tale we all know too well: It’s the morning after Halloween and you’re wiped from a crazy night of binge-watching horror movies and excessive candy eating (or going out, to each their own), when all of a sudden you hear it — the sleigh bells, those wholesome chord progressions.
It’s the season of Christmas music.
For many, the official start to the holiday season is a cause for celebration, but for some, it can be the perfect time to invest in a good pair of earplugs.
Nabiha Hasan, a second-year political science and communications student at the University of Ottawa, said she likes Christmas music but usually refrains from listening too early in the year.
“I personally wait a little bit—mid to late November—to start listening to (Christmas music),” said Hasan. “That way I don’t get sick of it really quick”.
Wanting to refrain from listening to Christmas music too early in the season likely ties to a phenomenon called semantic satiation, coined by Dr. Leon Jakobovits James in his 1962 doctoral dissertation at McGill University.
Usually, when we listen to something it gains meaning over repeated listens, James found in his study. However, there is a tipping point, which James labelled semantic satiation. Past that point, further exposure to a song decreases its meaningfulness.
In the context of Christmas music, semantic satiation could explain the common sentiment of getting sick of, or even annoyed by, the repetitive playing of festive music — even if the season calls for it.
For Galilee Wall, a second-year accounting major, stores playing Christmas music “makes sense for Nov. 1, because that’s when people start Christmas shopping.”
“From a marketing perspective, people are going to buy gifts in your store if they feel like it’s a store for buying gifts,” said Wall.
Although it makes sense to her from the perspective of a business, Wall is not personally a fan of the music genre. Wall also criticized the financial pressures put on relationships around this time of year.
“Personally, I don’t like the commercialization of Christmas,” said Wall. “There’s financial pressure on relationships to spend a certain amount to show that you care about someone, even if that’s not something that they need, or use, or they love”
Perceptions of Christmas music also vary from person to person, depending usually on connections formed in childhood
It can be difficult to avoid Christmas music, and the materialistic connotations that can come with it. My advice would be to be mindful of the setting in which you choose to listen to holiday music, if at all.
Personally, I think the music of the season will always have a special place for me because it reminds me of simpler times and, in my opinion, the best parts of humanity.
The degree to which warmth, kindness, and forgiveness are encouraged during the holiday season is something I don’t see as much in other seasons. Then again, I’m not sure I’d feel that way if songs like “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” didn’t tell me to. Either way, I’ll take what I can get.