Have Yourself a Merry Christmas: Altruism and Decorating

As the song goes, “It’s the season to be jolly.” The holidays are definitely a wonderful time of year with gift giving, parties, reunions, etc. Aside from this, Christmas is a season for donating and helping the less fortunate. This is one of the central themes of Christmas as Christians emphasize the significance of generosity and compassion.

Another thing that gets people excited during Christmas is putting up decorations, especially the Christmas tree. This tradition dates back to a thousand years ago in Europe. The trees were put up during winter, but they did not have balls and electric lighting then. From then, decorations have come a long way, with beautiful smartphone-controlled Christmas lights now present on the market.

Holiday altruism

During the holidays, people are more compelled to make donations. In fact, the probability of making a donation in December increases by 14%. Charity organizations also report that 40% of the annual donations that they receive are from Thanksgiving to New Year.

Additionally, helping others incites positive emotions. It reduces stress, increases strength, and promotes longevity. This is because generosity increases antibody levels that are long sustained even after the act itself.

The term “compassion-altruism axis” has also been coined by Dr. Stephen Post. This axis, according to him, is “activated during emotional expressions of empathy and compassion associated with the act of giving” because of the release of oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone” or “love hormone.”

The act of giving during the Christmas season does not only coincide with the deeply ingrained concept of generosity and compassion in Christianity. Science shows the physiological and psychological effects of donation and gift giving to humans.

christmas decorations

Christmas decorations

Putting up decorations is associated with happiness. This aspect of Christmas is linked with altruism as well, but the major impact is in nostalgia and community building. When decorating the house, people tend to look back on the past when things were easier. It also triggers pleasant childhood memories. Thinking about these moments evokes emotions of happiness.

This feeling of nostalgia compels people to connect with family members. This can be a bonding time for family members and friends as they collaborate to decorate the house, especially the Christmas tree. Since collaboration enhances creativity through actively sharing thoughts and outputs, working with other people when decorating may result in a prettier decorative setup around the house.

Aside from this, neighbors and friends become friendlier during this time of year. Sometimes, they offer each other decorations and initiate conversations, opening the possibility of making new connections. Being surrounded by people and connecting with each other improves mental health by building a supportive social circle. Feelings of love and belongingness are proven to reduce stress and improve self-worth.

During the holidays, sharing one’s blessings is an ideal way of celebrating Christmas. Gift giving and reaching out to the less fortunate will make you feel happy and contented. Other than receiving gifts and going on a shopping spree, the holiday season is the time of year when we can build connections and improve the quality of lives of other people.

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