Dr. Dimitris Xygalatas, associate professor for UConn Anthropology, provides important cultural insight from his research on how rituals are even more important during the 2020 holiday season. In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Xygalatas explains how rituals “help us alleviate anxiety and they help to increase social connection”. This is no exception during the 2020 season, as he writes that rituals “help us maintain a sense of structure and control in our lives, and this can allow us to overcome some of the stressors of
daily life”. He also writes how “through the use of symbolic markers (e.g. wearing the same clothes), the alignment of movements and behaviors (e.g. collective singing), and appeals to tradition, they create a sense of unity and belonging that all humans crave.”.
As this year comes to a close, it is clear that rituals are more needed then ever. In an interview with The Guardian, Dr. Xygalatas says “Research shows that when we spend money on experiences, rather than material stuff, we feel happier,”. He also states that “The reason behind this is that we enjoy the experience, and afterwards we enjoy the memories of it, but we also enjoy the anticipation. I think this is the part that applies to holiday rituals. Given this situation of increased anxiety, this feeling of anticipation and all the preparations give us something to do which is meaningful.”. In an interview with The New York Times, Dr. Xygalatas talks about how the current situation impacts the necessity of rituals, “This is precisely the time where we need these rituals or traditions more than ever, and it’s exactly the time where we can’t have them. It creates a lot of extra anxiety”.