Is coronavirus bringing back Christmas, and can that bring joy to the world? Experts weigh in
To spread some cheer during the coronavirus pandemic, people are putting their Christmas lights back up in March. Storyful
It’s the most wonderful time of year – again!
While temperatures are on the rise, and spring is officially here, there's been a return to Christmas in an attempt to spread some non-holiday cheer. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Hallmark Channel will air holiday features during a movie marathon this weekend, given the on the (red) nose title: “We Need a Little Christmas.”
Hallmark’s marathon kicks off Friday at noon with "A Christmas Detour" starring Candace Cameron Bure. The lineup of feel-good flicks continues through Sunday evening, ending at 6 with "Christmas in Rome" starring Lacey Chabert. Other titles on the network’s nice (to watch while you’re home) list include "A Christmas Love Story" with Kristin Chenoweth and "Christmas at Dollywood" with Dolly Parton.
Hallmark isn't alone in looking to the holidays for a pick-me-up.
People also took to social media with the idea of putting up Christmas lights to spread some hope and kindness during this challenging time.
"A friend just shared that an elderly neighbor came to her house and asked her husband to turn on the Christmas lights because there's so much darkness and scariness now. So, there are bright dancing Christmas lights now on in their neighborhood," @LisaStRegis tweeted.
She told USA TODAY that she plans to put up lights of her own this weekend after being inspired by others who are doing the same.
"I believe people really want to do good, be useful and have purpose," she says. "The lights just make it extra-magical."
"Today a few of my neighbours decided we needed a bit more light in this dark time and decided to turn their Christmas lights back on. I hope it brings a smile to (your) face like it did mine," @NadineGB204 shared.
Nadine Ness of Saskatchewan, Canada, told USA TODAY that the lights made her happy because they brought her "back to Christmas."
"It brought me back to a time where none of this was happening, a time where we weren’t afraid of what’s to come," she adds.
"My youngest son was bored today and said, 'can we put Christmas lights on our tree outside to cheer us up?' Great idea buddy," user @rhodyknowsbest tweeted. "Lights are on tonight as a sign of hope and the sweet mind of my 10 year old."
Rosemary Peterson of Lakewood, Colo., whose son Michael (user @quickbear) tweeted about her plan to put up lights, told USA TODAY that she got the idea after her late sister's memorial service was postponed indefinitely due to coronavirus.
"We knew it was the right thing to do, but still it was a wrenching decision," she says. "So in the midst of a lot of darkness, I thought we all could use some light. Michael liked the idea and decided to post it on Twitter."
Peterson adds that the positive response has made her "feel better."
"We know we are not alone. Many people have had to forgo events and activities and milestones that are dear to them. The lights are really about reminding us of life and hope," she says.
Does this holiday resurgence actually pack any Christmas magic? Experts say yes.
Samantha Jones, who has a doctorate in biomedical science and has written about the holiday for Psychology Today, believes this could be beneficial for fans of the time period.
“I think for those who associate the holiday season with feelings of happiness and joy, this is a time to really try and harness those feelings as best we can,” she says, suggesting Christmas lights, as well as decorations or symbols of things and occasions that spark elation.
“It’s a smart way of kind of trying to deal with maybe some of the anxiety and loneliness that comes from quarantining, or whatever you have to do,” she adds.
Krystine Batcho, a professor in the psychology department at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., believes people may turn to the comfort of the holidays at a stressful time because of what the occasions mean.
“Holidays represent to us the best of times. They represent family, friends, the people we enjoy things with, celebrate with, rather than the down times, the times of adversity,” she says. “It’s like we’re going to counteract the negative aspects of this stressful period with all the positive emotions that are attached to holidays.”
Batcho also endorsed the holiday movies, calling them a “win-win” since people are advised to stay home and the programs could counter feelings of “isolation and loneliness.”
She feels the movies bring "this sense of relationships and togetherness and realizing that a lot of the values that are illustrated have to do with loyalty and counting on someone in time of need. And right now, when a lot of people are feeling a little isolated and lonely, I think those movies speak to that.”
Jones wants people to understand that many things could evoke the sense of nostalgia that Christmas brings.
“Just kind of roll with whatever makes you feel happy,” she says.
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