We all know at least one person who has already erected a Christmas tree and placed an angel on top while everyone else on the block still has paper ghosts stuck to their windows and a rotting pumpkin on the stoop. Maybe it’s your neighbor; maybe it’s you. Jolliness aside, these early decorators tend to get a bad rap. For some people, the holidays provide more stress than splendor, so the sight of that first plastic reindeer on a neighbor’s roof isn’t exactly a welcome one.
But according to two psychoanalysts, these eager decorators aren’t eccentric—they’re simply happier. Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown told UNILAD:
“[T]here could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early; most commonly, [people put them up for] for nostalgic reasons, either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect. In a world full of stress and anxiety, people like to associate [with] things that make them happy, and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of childhood. Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old ... magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extend[s] the excitement[.]”
Amy Morin, another psychoanalyst, linked Christmas decorations with the pleasures of childhood, telling the site: “The holiday season stirs up a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia helps link people to their personal past and it helps people understand their identity. For many, putting up Christmas decorations early is a way for them to reconnect with their childhoods.”
Morin also explained that these nostalgic memories can help remind people of spending the holidays with loved ones who have since passed away. “Decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual,” she explained.
And that neighbor of yours who has had their home decked out for December 25 since Halloween? Well, according to a 1989 study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, homes that have been warmly decorated for the holidays make the residents appear more “friendly and cohesive” compared to non-decorated homes when observed by strangers. In other words: a little wreath can go a long way.
So if you want to hang those stockings before you’ve digested your Thanksgiving dinner, go ahead. You might just find yourself happier for it.
A version of this story ran in 2017; it has been updated for 2023.