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The Psychology Behind Our Love For Christmas Movies

By Amy Saad

Christmas films are enjoyed everywhere despite their completely predictable storylines and cheesy plots- there is something that makes them feel so cosy, sentimental, and nostalgic. The enduring popularity of iconic films including Home Alone, The Grinch, The Polar Express and Elf are largely attributed to their ability to pique the attention of children and adults alike and to serve as the movies of choice in the last few days of school.

The psychotherapist Noel McDermott believes that we gravitate towards rewatching Christmas movies because “we’re creatures of habit” and the predictable storylines allow us to “know exactly what’s going on, and just really enjoy it”. Christmas is truly a time of reconnecting and bonding with people we have not seen in a long time. Being a time of social activity and high emotion, people experience “a lot of reward hormones for being pro-social” (McDermott) including oxytocin- the love hormone. These positive reward hormones make us want more- and where better to find them on our screens. We can relate to the emotions expressed in the movies “so we feel ‘loved up’ when we’re watching them, but we’re feeling ‘loved up’ anyway” (McDermott). It is in this way that people are constantly drawn and redrawn to the sentiment of Christmas through movies and songs.

Over time there have been many adaptions of popular movies- my personal favourite being the Christmas edition, ‘Shrek The Halls’. Not the absolute best movie of all time, (I reserve that for the original Shrek movies- except for the 4th one which is ranked significantly lower) but it’s true that the nostalgia associated with Christmas time brings around traditions such as rewatching the same Christmas movie every year.


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