Health, Music, Syracuse

Christmas Music is not Merry for all

By Jose Cuevas Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) — The catchy tunes that you sing along to during the holiday season may actually be bad for your mental health.

Cazenovia College Professor of Psychology Rachel Dinero says the music can force people to revisit bad memories experienced during the holidays.

“If a family member died during the holidays when a specific tune was playing non-stop during those days then every time that song plays a person may be reminded of that painful memory,” said Dinero.

Christmas music doesn’t just bring up bad memories but it can also cause stress or put you in a bad mood.

“You don’t have to have suffered some sort of trauma during the holidays, if you’re low on funds for example, the music will trigger you because now you remember that you may have to buy gifts for your kids or loves ones…it could stress you out,” said Dinero.

Not all people have this experience as many enjoy the music.

“It just reminds me of when me and my mom used to decorate the Christmas tree at home, and we used to dance around the house. Because the music was just so catchy,” said Christmas music aficionado Autumn Bergin.

Bergin loves the music and says it impacts her in a positive way.

“It’s just like around this time. I don’t know it just makes me feel really happy…how can you not like it?” said Bergin.

Dinero says people automatically assume Christmas music is merry for all.

“One of the reasons people assume that Christmas music makes people happy is because people assume that Christmas makes people happy. And for many people holidays are not happy at all,” says Dinero.

“The music can also trigger people who love the music if it is played too early,” said Dinero

This effect is called the social allergen effect where people can learn to dislike something if it’s done over and over again, or in this case they hear it and it can begin to be annoying if they start playing it too early said Dinero.

The fact that there are only a few songs also impacts people.

“It’s the same songs too, you can only hear Rudolph so many times, and if you had a bad experience during the season that one song can trigger you every holiday season,” said Dinero.

Christmas decorations in Downtown Syracuse (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

A small Christmas tree (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

It may not be a winter wonderland for everyone (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas