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Art in EHS Life

What elements of art can be found in our daily lives? Read more to find about different places of our lives at EHS where art can be seen.

Sentimental Snow

By Hayoung Lee

Published 01/31/2019

7:45 am, 30 minutes before the start of the first period, you rise up from your bed. As you reluctantly escape from the warmth of the bedsheets, you realize the light peeking through the blinds to be alarmingly paler and brighter than usual, and the atmosphere to be rather chilly. You rapidly open the blinds and discover a terrain of white-it’s snowing.

Winter is often described as the ‘artistic’ season. The cold and chilly air and the crisp snow are all imageries used in literature, visual art, theatre to set up as an environment to evoke emotion. In stories, the season of winter is used as pathetic fallacy, to describe a setting years after the dramatic climax of the story, where the characters come back to reflect back on their actions. In poetry, snow is used to describe silence and tranquility. In visual art, the landscape of white snow adds emphasis to the colorful subject of the piece, evoking the feeling of loneliness.

In all three instances, the season of winter is used to illustrate the feelings often perceived to be of sad emotions.

Meanings associated with snow have more to do with their hue than their temperature. The white color of fresh snow commonly implies innocence and simplicity. In fact, the expression “white as snow” is used in reference to purity and cleanliness. The feeling of tranquility evoked from snow may be due to how we view the scene of small speckles of ice piling to the ground to form

 landscapes of white as renewal, the erasure of the current environment leading to the formation of a different world. The blankness of snow implies a new start, a time when an individual can solely focus and care for themselves, briefly forgetting that the world around them ever existed, until the time for the snow to melt.

Studies at the University of Southampton display a correlation between cold weather and one’s feelings of nostalgia. Researchers at the University of Southampton recruited college students to participate in five relatively basic studies centering around nostalgia to warmth.

Participants were asked to keep a journal of nostalgic feelings over 30 days, which were then compared to each day's weather.

In another experiment, participants were placed in rooms ranging from cold to comfortable to over-heated, and then asked how nostalgic they felt.

In another online study, participants listened to music and were asked about how nostalgic it made them feel, along with how warm they currently felt.

Another study placed participants in a cold room and instructed them to reflect on their nostalgic or ordinary memories, and then to guess the room's temperature.

The final study conducted participants to recall a nostalgic or ordinary memory, and then to place their hands in iced water and was instructed to keep them there for as long as they possibly could.

The journalers recorded more nostalgic thoughts on colder days. The people in cold rooms rated highest on nostalgia scales. The people for whom the music evoked the most sentimentality reported feeling warmer. The people told to think nostalgic thoughts while in the cold room had the warmest estimates for what the temperature actually was. And the participants in the ice water experiment lasted longest when they focused on nostalgic memories. The conclusion seemed clear and strong: Nostalgia appears to both to be evoked in chilly atmospheres and to have a protective effect against the cold -- either by making us feel warmer or at least increasing our tolerance.

If you're sad and lonely in the winter season, ponder about your happier times or childhood-it’ll enable you to feel more dominant over the seemingly endless snowy winter landscape and cold weather. Snow and cold weather may be the most literal action of daydreaming in the world of your own mind.