the nights at their longest and the weather at its bleakest, winter is in full force for those of us in the northern hemisphere. After the hubbub of the holiday season – even if our celebrations were a little different this year – it’s tempting to hunker down and wait for spring to brighten our moods before we think about socialising out and about. This year, perhaps more so than any we have experienced before, that retreat indoors has coincided with an increase in Covid-19 restrictions, meaning that for many across Europe and the US the decision isn’t optional.
But do humans need this seasonal downtime to rest and recharge – and if so, where does that need come from? Or has modern life conditioned us to be less social in the winter?
There is one modern phrase that sums up this desire to stay put in the winter – “cuffing season”. The term was shortlisted for word of the year in 2017 by one dictionary, who describe the phenomenon as the time where, if you’re single, you might be looking to couple up with someone new at the start of winter and stay in that relationship until spring. Interest in “cuffing season” peaks in northern-hemisphere Google searches between October and February before dropping off entirely over the summer.
You only have to flick through lists of seasonal movies at this time of year to be offered up a virtual selection box of couple-themed romantic comedies. And there might be a good reason why: Feeling physically cold increases how much audiences like, and are willing to pay for, romantic films (however, those viewers already associated romance movies with warm feelings – so could perhaps imagine themselves warming up while watching it). There’s something about colder nights and shorter days that seems to make people want romantic storylines.