Psychology Behind Festival and Holiday Season Celebrations

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Holidays are something that every person looks forward to. They give us a chance to exit the grayness of our everyday life and to cherish existence. Some people even see them as some kind of escape and life’s only purpose. However, for some, holidays might be the source of depression and low self-esteem. So how to find a balance between those two extremes?

The First Ceremonies

The idea of gathering into a group and celebrating life and gods has been present from the beginning of mankind. Our ancestors would occasionally perform a series of group rituals to show worshipping of gods and idols. The main purpose of these rituals was to show gratitude and to maintain “good relations” with the higher force.

The Human Need for Belonging

The psychological motivation behind “the forming of crowds” is the need for belonging and connection. Humans feel safe, understood, and gain a feeling of righteousness if everyone around them is thinking/feeling the same thing as them. Through psychological experiments, it is shown that a person inside a crowd is even capable of doing things he would never do alone. That’s how strong the crowd effect can be.

It is an accepted commonplace in psychology that the spiritual level of people acting as a crowd is far lower than the mean of each individual’s intelligence or morality. ~ Christian Lous Lange

No Rules Applied

The second motivation behind participating in a crowd is that in a festive atmosphere most of the everyday regulations stop applying. People get a feeling that they have been unchained from the rigid written norms. The more they lead stiff everyday life, the more extreme they will behave. This is mainly because the need to “go wild” accumulates inside of the unconscious through time, and when people get a chance to realise it, it explodes like a volcano.

The Need for Extraordinary

Since human life mostly consists of routine, it comes as no surprise how much importance is placed on the ways to escape it. Religious people give the most value to religious holidays, as a way to express gratitude towards the higher force and to remember their blessings. But if we look at the two main holidays for most people outside of religious context, that would be New Year’s Eve and summer vacation. Between them the “boring” everyday life takes place.

Potential Problems

So what exactly can turn out wrong during the holiday season? According to scientific studies, a lot of it. The main observation is that what may look like a fun activity to many, won’t be fun to some. This is the moment when some people, usually introverts, start to feel left out and get a sense of not belonging. Just because society tells you to go out and hang out with people in order to have fun, doesn’t mean that you have to gain satisfaction that way.

The Media vs. Reality

If the main meaning of holidays is to cherish life, then everyone should be able to cherish it in his own way. Social media put huge pressure and expectations on individuals and it comes as no surprise the contra effect it has. If everyone needs to have fun, let’s see potential ways to achieve it.

Introverted Solutions

  • Decorate your environment

The main goal is that your everyday surroundings give you a sense of peace and stability. If you don’t like to be surrounded by flashlights and many colours, you can decorate your room with whatever comes to mind. Remember, the main motivation behind this is for you to feel better, not satisfy other people’s tastes.

  • Plan a holiday activity

This activity should match your version of having a good time: it may be reading a good book, watching an interesting movie, or just staying alone at home doing nothing. There is no need for guilt here, it’s the holiday season and you should find your version of happiness.

  • Turn off social media

Leave social media or pause your activity on it if you feel that it drags your energy and gives you “bad vibes”. Our presence on social accounts should be a fun way to express ourselves and get positive feedback in return. So if you’re getting only stress and anxiety from it, it’s a sign to take some time off.

  • Have a good time with a few good friends

It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant really, the main goal is to spend some quality time with people you love and have respect for. You can hang out together and play board games, watch movies, or even throw your own house party with your special playlist that gives you great joy. No need to feel bored in a disco where nothing seems to fit your taste.

Extroverted Solutions

Since extroverts by default have a greater urge to go out, meet new people and get satisfaction from external stimuli, it comes as no surprise that they won’t have much fun doing introverted activities. Here are some other choices:

  • Visit a new town

The best way to have an adventurous vacation is by visiting new places and meeting new people. This is why people who find joy in high social activity should go for it

  • Make a reservation

If you are not in the best situation to travel outside of your hometown, don’t worry. There are plenty of events in your surroundings. Usually, all clubs host special parties for New Year’s and similar holidays, so you should check your solutions and make a reservation on time

  • Throw a big party

If you don’t want to go out, but feel the need to spend time with your friends, you can always organize a party of your own. You can even tell your friends to bring some cool people they know, or you can send them invites through social media

The Emptiness of Our Everyday Life

Contrary to the overall belief, festivals and holidays actually may show us just how much our everyday life needs fixing. If we wait for the whole year just to go on a vacation where we will make a beast of ourselves, something deep down inside of us has gone wrong. We should apply the healthy cherishing of life to our everyday. By doing this we will be a lot closer to a long-term solution.

Cherish Yourself Everyday

  • Take time for yourself every day

 It doesn’t have to last long, maybe just five minutes of meditation, half an hour of reading a good book, or just sitting by yourself drinking coffee or tea. No outside distractions, just you with your thoughts.

  • Remember all the blessings

Being alive is a miracle of its own. So even if you are not a religious person, you should find the will inside of you to make sense of life itself. It is enough just to think about how lucky you are to get a chance to breathe, laugh, experience both pain and joy, and grow as a person. Prayers, meditations or just trusted books about spirituality will help you along the way.

  • Find your uniqueness and nurture it

Every one of us has a special gift which should be nurtured and finally shared with the world. Even if it looks like a silly little hobby of yours that nobody would understand, it shouldn’t stop you. If you can experience your authenticity in some specific way, then you will be able to make progress in it every day. This will fill your life with purpose.

Hypocrisy Outside and Pain Underneath

If we want to be completely honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that what we see around us – exaggeration of happiness and good times – is very often just fake. This perfect image is usually shown on social media, while in reality, people spend their “great time” staring at their phones, texting or scrolling. Soon enough you will realise that there aren’t as many people who know how to enjoy life as you thought there were.

Celebrate in a Healthy Way

 The main goal of festivals and holidays should be to connect with ourselves and the people around us. This should be the time of forgiveness and good relations with others, that give us the energy and motivation to start our everyday “fight for existence” again. If we look at the individualistic society we live in, we may assume that the need for connection and a sense of belonging is now stronger than ever, so we need to find a way to express it in right and healthy ways.

Final Thoughts

  • You should spend holidays the way you want to, not how the world around you tells you you’re supposed to
  • Don’t put pressure on yourself to celebrate if you don’t have the energy and are going through some rough patch
  • If you are a more introverted soul, find some individual activities that fill your heart with warmth and joy, no need for the big show
  • More extroverted people can explore social events in their own town, or go and visit new places and countries and have a blast
  • Since many people see holidays as a gateway, it is important to establish a healthy everyday routine that will give a purpose to your everyday life
  • You should always be aware that what you see on the outside often isn’t what’s lying beneath. Don’t get manipulated by social media and the hypocrisy of the human mind.

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