The unexpected reason holidays matter

Yearning for ritual and repetition

The holidays are coming, as they do every year, and those celebrating are preparing for a series of rituals more or less the same as every other year. But far from being a cause of existential ennui, this repetition is key to what makes the holidays so special.  Humans crave regularity and predictability, and the holidays give us a sense of security that alleviates stress and anxiety, argues Dimitris Xygalatas. 


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, at least if we are to believe the famous lyrics. Yet, to an observer unfamiliar with holiday celebrations –perhaps the proverbial anthropologist from Mars– they can seem rather monotonous.

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