Offering an emotional escape during the darkest of times, it is never too early to listen to Christmas music

Mariah+Carrey+continues+her+reign+on+the+Christmas+music+genre+with+her+new+song+%22Oh+Santa%21%22+featuring+Ariana+Grande+and+Jennifer+Hudson.

Graphic by Caroline Dinh

Mariah Carrey continues her reign on the Christmas music genre with her new song “Oh Santa!” featuring Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson.

Francesca Venditti, Opinions Writer

An annual occurrence, a jolly and festive spirit imbues the air as the winter holidays rapidly approach. And though the holidays look a bit different this year, the trying circumstances only make it all the more enticing to relax, celebrate and listen to holiday music. Classic Christmas music is a hallmark of the snowy season and often helps its listeners unwind after a stressful year. It is never too early to listen to holiday music, especially since its nostalgic charm provides an escape from emotional turmoil during quarantine via fonder memories.

Whether small woodland creatures are scurrying around the forest in the spring or burrowed in trees for the winter, holiday songs retain their undeniable charisma year-round. Junior Emily Wu said, “it’s never too early to listen to holiday music. I’m singing ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘All I Want for Christmas’ in the middle of summer.” Well-known holiday favorites are always worth a listen. The overwhelming success of Mariah Carey’s 26-year-old hit ‘All I Want for Christmas’ shows that holiday music transcends the barriers of time. English teacher Susan Leckie said, “people should not discriminate against holiday music based on the season or month. The holidays we keep in our hearts are the ones that matter!”

Instilled with childhood memories for many, classic songs like ‘Last Christmas’, ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Jingle Bells’ are nostalgic and heart-warming. Leckie said, “my go-to feel-good songs have more to do with memories of TV shows and movies from my youth and times spent with my family.” When in need of a pick-me-up, these traditional pieces can bolster their audience through peace and happiness. Senior Yiyi Li said, “people define themselves with time too much. Just do whatever, whenever. You don’t have to wait until a certain time to do so.” 

Both neuroscience and psychological research attest to the remarkable connection between childhood recollections and holiday songs. The Washington Post reported that the brain processes tonal patterns of holiday music and memories in overlapping areas of the medial prefrontal cortex. In other words, the brain associates nostalgic memories with holiday songs upon hearing them. On bad days and good days, holiday music can allow people to remember cherished moments–all the more reason to listen to it freely!

An analysis by Spotify revealed that the first surge in Christmas listening starts as early as Nov. 1 in the United States. When looking at other parts of the world, the trend begins even sooner, at the start of October. Early bird or not, it is truly never too early for Christmas music. In fact, as of Dec. 14 this year, Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas’ sits atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has remained on the coveted list for over forty weeks.

Although nothing can surpass the classics, covers are also a great option for those seeking the comfort of holiday music early this year. Michael Buble’s ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas’ and Pentatonix’s slew of covers are perfect places to start. In addition to being more recent and accessible, these modern renditions renew interest in holiday songs among a younger audience. Ariana Grande also changed the listening game with the hit holiday single ‘Santa Tell Me”, proving that pop Christmas music can and will have a lasting impact. No matter how you listen to music, no one can deny the sudden boost in mood after hearing those danceable rhythms, familiar melodies and sleigh bells.

In a year that has felt like an eternity, depression and loneliness have skyrocketed to unimaginable levels. People have been restricted from visiting their families and friends, and have been unable to make new lasting memories. However, the power of holiday music can help them remember happier times. Leckie said, “this year more than ever I feel it’s important to do those little things that help us feel connected to others, and recall times in the past that may have been happier, and look forward to many wonderful times yet to come.” Whether you are humming along to the tune of “Jingle Bells” or blasting the new Christmas release from your favorite pop star, there is never a wrong time to indulge in holiday music!