The word nostalgia comes from a combination of two Greek words, νόστος (nóstos), meaning "homecoming," and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning "pain, ache."
It is attributed to a 17th-century medical student to describe anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home.
It can be brought on by many different associations. Memories can be stirred when looking at old photos of people and places, listening to a song that takes you back to when you first heard it, or tasting something familiar from your childhood.
Sensory expert Professor Barry Smith says that "Smell, more than any other sense, can evoke powerful, emotional memories. Whole scenes of people, places and things can be brought back to life by the hint of a long forgotten scent."
“Whether it’s a seaside holiday, a visit to a fairground, or a sunny walk through a forest, smelling a particular scent can suddenly take us right back.”
According to a UK study of over 2,000 adults, recently featured in the Daily Mail, certain smells are more likely to trigger nostalgic memories than others. The study revealed the top 40 scents that evoke powerful emotions among Brits when smelled again.
The top 10 smells which trigger nostalgic memories of school days, holidays and loved ones include sun cream, bubble gum, fish and chips, freshly mown grass, candy floss (cotton candy for those in the US) and rain on hot tarmac.
Lavender and peppermint were found to most likely spark memories of grandmothers, while the smell of gasoline, old sheds and Old Spice were likely to prompt memories of grandfathers.
What smells make you nostalgic? What smells do you associate with your childhood?
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