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The John Lewis Christmas advert has arrived, but why does it get us every year?

Watch: John Lewis turns to Snapper the mischievous Venus flytrap for festive ad

The John Lewis Christmas advert has officially been released and while we aren't blubbing into the tissues quite as much as normal, we're still feeling warm and fuzzy.

The highly anticipated advert, titled Snapper, The Perfect Tree follows the heartwarming tale of a boy, Alfie, whose grow-your-own Christmas tree turns out to be a mischievous Venus flytrap.

Alfie lovingly nurtures the plant from a seed bought at a local market, in the belief he is cultivating a perfect Christmas tree, but the fast-growing, fly-eating plant becomes something of a personality determined to join in the fun of Christmas despite causing chaos.

Of course there's an inevitable tear-jerking moment when Snapper is dragged out into the cold to make way for a traditional tree.

But Alfie is determined for Snapper to have a place in the celebrations, which soon sees him back in the fold, as the ad ends with the strapline "Let your traditions grow".

Read more: M&S's 2023 Christmas advert is filled with famous faces and standout partywear (Yahoo Life UK, 3-min read)

The John Lewis Christmas ad is titled Snapper, the perfect tree. (John Lewis and Partners/PA)
The John Lewis Christmas ad is titled Snapper, the perfect tree. (John Lewis and Partners/PA)

In something of a twist, this year's ad has shunned the typical haunting tracks in favour of an upbeat, original song called Festa – which means celebration – performed by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

Though we're not left having to explain why we've got something in our eye this year, the retailer's 2024 offering still has it's fair share of heartwarming, seasonal magic as it aims to celebrate Christmas traditions, both old and new.

"We are a nation that loves the traditions of Christmas – from classic traditions like pantos and putting up the tree to evolving new ones like crafting our own presents and Zoom get-togethers," explains John Lewis customer director Charlotte Lock.

"Many of us have our own unique festive traditions and that makes them even more special. The film celebrates themes of family and evolving traditions, and shows that a ‘perfect’ Christmas is finding joy together with loved ones, whatever your traditions."

While this year's advert is a step away from the tearjerker we're used to, there's still some of the usual sentiment, which is one of the six psychologist-backed reasons the John Lewis adverts get us every year.

Read more: Best premium Christmas crackers 2023 your guests will love filled with beauty, booze and more (Yahoo Life UK, 3-min read)

Still from the John Lewis ad. (John Lewis and Partners/PA)
This year's ad isn't quite a tearjerking as usual. (John Lewis and Partners/PA)

Shop the John Lewis Christmas ad

Sentiment

John Lewis is particularly effective at capturing the zeitgeist with its storytelling, and inevitably offers something to tug on the heart strings.

"Perhaps it connects us with an experience we have loved in the past, perhaps it triggers exciting thoughts of what is to come, or perhaps it just makes us feel warm inside," Dr Audrey Tang, chartered psychologist and author of The Leader’s Guide to Resilience (Pearson, £14.99) explains.

"Sentiment enables us to focus on feelings rather than thoughts, and in a world that is often dominated with rationale and reason, it is nice to have the opportunity to sit for a moment with our feelings…especially when they are positive ones."

Tradition

According to Dr Tang some people see the launch of the John Lewis advert as the unofficial start of the festive season.

"Somewhat akin to the Coca Cola ad, and the Schools Out in summer, there are some adverts which almost denote the time of year," she explains.

"For those of us who ask whether November 9 is too early to put up the Christmas decorations, others will often mark the start of the festive season by seeing the John Lewis ad on TV…almost as if it gives us permission to begin our celebrations."

Still from the John Lewis Christmas ad featuring a family together. (John Lewis and Partners/PA)
The John Lewis ad has arrived so Christmas can officially begin. (John Lewis and Partners/PA)

Empathy

According to Dr Tang it is through watching others that we can understand, feel and experience something outside ourselves.

"Heartwarming viewing enables us a sense of escapism just for a moment, and an advert is not as long as a film so we don't need to commit much of our time," she explains.

FOMO

Part of the success of the John Lewis adverts has to be attributed to the feeling of watching, then forming an opinion on something everyone is talking about.

"Alfred Schutz said that relationships with others are as important to human existence as food and water," explains Dr Tang. "And a sense of inclusion of at least knowing the current trend or talking point often gives our self esteem (often measured in comparison with others) a boost."

Read more: John Lewis say Brits plan to have two Christmas trees this year (Yahoo Life UK, 5-min read)

The John Lewis Christmas advert evokes all sorts of nostalgic emotions according to experts. (Getty Images)
The John Lewis Christmas advert evokes all sorts of nostalgic emotions according to experts. (Getty Images)

Expectation

The John Lewis Christmas campaign is one which, by reputation or certainly perception, spares little expense.

"They often have had world renowned artists singing the soundtrack, (Andrea Bocelli this year) and the end product is generally one which has been crafted like a movie," Dr Tang explains. "We anticipate we are going to enjoy it and anticipation in itself can be very positively stimulating for the brain."

Life lessons

The storytelling of the John Lewis ad often has a message to impart, and according to Dr Tang that can be a lovely starting point for discussion on the positive behaviours in life.

"Every culture has passed down stories over the years, whether to scare or even 'guilt trip' others into certain behaviours, or away from them; or to teach valuable lessons which can be used to navigate life’s ups and downs."

Additional reporting PA.