It's happening, people: holiday music is here! Don't be ashamed if you've already started blaring these happy hits through your car radio — you may be onto something. Just like decorating early for the holidays, listening to holiday tunes can have a positive effect on your demeanor. While smell reigns supreme as the most powerful sense to trigger memories (time to stick those gingerbread cookies in the oven), music has been proven to improve your mood.
In fact, one study defined listening to music as "one of the most pleasurable human experiences." Holiday music is usually characterized by fast tempo and major mode, and our enjoyment of it is "strongly modulated by individual factors, such as familiarity with the music, personality, [and] current mood." That, paired with a happy tempo and traditionally major mode, make listening to holiday music all the more enjoyable.
Aside from holiday music being downright catchy, these songs evoke nostalgia. The songs played around the holidays are centered on family, tradition, and religious symbols. Nostalgia has been linked to psychological and physiological resilience, as well as in the development of social bonding. It's understandable, then, that for many people, holiday songs unite us and serve as a pleasant reminder of the joy the season brings. Studies have also proven that the portions of the brain responsible for our emotional response to music are actively triggered when we hear happy music or, in this case, the sounds of the season.
If you think it's too soon to start listening to holiday hits, that's totally fine. There's plenty of time left to get into the holiday spirit! Take the time to listen to the songs that mean the most to you, whatever genre they might fall into.