Ever walk by a bakery, catch a whiff of freshly baked sugar cookies and instantly feel transported to a different time and place—perhaps in your childhood kitchen with mom, baking your favorite holiday treat?

Certain scents that are highly prevalent during the holiday season evoke feelings of nostalgia—the sensation of reflecting on or longing for the past and past experiences for which we have much affection. We all have likely experienced this phenomenon, but why? And why is it so frequent this time of year?

Why We Love the Scents of Christmas - Nostalgia

 

What is holiday nostalgia?

People are defined by personal experiences with family and traditions—which is why the holidays make us feel the need to be close to loved ones. Airports and train stations are packed with travelers voyaging near and far to spend the season with the people they love the most. It’s human nature to want to be connected to others—and the holidays are the perfect time to do so.

“Certain scents that are highly prevalent during the holiday season evoke feelings of nostalgia—the sensation of reflecting on or longing for the past and past experiences for which we have much affection.”

Those who have happy memories of the holidays will recall those same positive feelings from simply experiencing the same scents, sounds, sights of the season—no matter where they are. According to www.livescience.com, “Nostalgia is almost like a psychological substitute for the real thing.” These beloved scents of Christmas essentially connect us to our nearest and dearest, even when we can’t be with them.

Alan R. Hirsch, author of Nostalgia: a Neuropsychiatric Understanding, defines nostalgia as a combination of many different memories, all integrated together, resulting in a longing for an idealized past. So whether the memories are exact or not, only the general feelings are what we miss.

Krystine Batcho, PhD, in an article on http://www.care2.com, reveals that nostalgia is actually a good thing. People often yearn for the past because it is familiar, and therefore more comforting than the inconsistencies of the every day, or the future. If and when we are ever feeling lonely, all we need to do is simply experience nostalgia, and we recreate all those good feelings we have when close to our favorite people.

 

What are the top scents of the season?

Real, live Christmas tree
8 in 10 Americans go for real, fresh holiday décor with 52% saying it’s because they like the smell.

Why We Love the Scents of Christmas - Real, Live Christmas Tree

 

Gingerbread
the holidays bring out the baker and the decorator in all of us, which is why decorating gingerbread cookies and houses are a tradition of the season.

Why We Love the Scents of Christmas - Gingerbread

 

A fire in the fireplace
snuggling up around the fireplace is a must during the cold winter months. The smell of that crackling fire and the decorations on the mantel really bring out the holiday spirit.

Why We Love the Scents of Christmas - Fireplace

 

Cinnamon
among other spices, cinnamon is used in Christmas recipes, and cinnamon sticks are used in decorations, filling the home with the lovely fragrance.

Why We Love the Scents of Christmas - Cinnamon

 

Peppermint
with Santa giving out the traditional holiday treat, candy canes, at every corner, you can’t help but reminisce when you smell these minty delights.

Why We Love the Scents of Christmas - Peppermind

 

Sugar cookies
it’s hard to resist grabbing a few sugar cookies at that Christmas gathering, especially with the sweet smell of vanilla filling the air.

Why We Love the Scents of Christmas - Sugar Cookies

 

Hot cocoa – what goes hand-in-hand with those toothsome sugar cookies? The sweet, warm delectable drink, hot cocoa—which also fills the air with its delightful scent.

Why We Love the Scents of Christmas - Hot Chocolate

Surround yourself with the smells you love this holiday season, so you can think back on all your Christmas memories and traditions with fondness—and conjure up all those happy feelings again. There are so many ways to fill your home with these wonderful scents—decorate with real, live Christmas greens, light vanilla-scented candles or make this incredible Christmas potpourri, specially made to remind us of the holidays.

 

References:

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/is-holiday-nostalgia-good-for-you.html

http://www.livescience.com/17571-nostalgia-holidays-memories.html

http://www.acrwebsite.org/search/view-conference-proceedings.aspx?Id=7326