What Does Nostalgia Mean?


What does it mean?

I was having a think this week about what nostalgia means, is it different for each individual or does it mean the same?

The word nostalgia comes from two Greek roots “nostos” to return home and “algia” a longing.

According to Svetlana Boym in the book ‘The Future of Nostalgia’, it is a sentiment of loss and displacement, but also a romance with one’s own fantasy. Strangely in the 17th century nostalgia was considered to be a curable disease akin to a common cold, Swiss doctors believed, opium, leeches and a journey to the Swiss Alps would take care of nostalgic symptoms.

Svetlana Boym believes it is a yearning for a different time – often a time of our childhood, a time of fond memories, a romantic time.

I believe Nostalgia enables you to reminisce on happy times, a time of comfort or perhaps a memory of a special person or place, it allows you to retain a moment that is lost in time – but through nostalgic sentiments it remains with you in the present.

Objects can rekindle these special past  moments affectionately and often fill us with courage to conquer the present. At my last market, I experienced a very emotional moment when a customer spotted two biscuit tins on my stall, leading to a very tearful few moments where she recalled how her late father had owned the exact tins. Such a poignant moment reaffirming to me the importance of objects and their connection to the past and treasured memories – but also their relevance for the present and future in the comfort and courage they bring through the nostalgic sentiments they awaken.

The nostalgic biscuit tins


I happily stumbled across my favorite children’s book the other day in a charity shop and was instantly whisked away on a nostalgic journey. ‘John Brown Rose and The Midnight Cat’, the story of a loyal sheep dog and his nose periodically being put out of joint by a midnight cat, is a true connection to my childhood and that lovely time of the day when you snuggled up ready for a bedtime story.

Gorgeous illustrations….



john brown and slipper

John Brown, a loyal friend deep in thought….

Food For Thought….

Like treasured objects and special books, food I believe can equally stir nostalgia. I was brought up in Cyprus – lucky enough to spend most waking moments on the beach and outside, surrounded by delicious Cypriot food, which still to this day is my favorite food and transports me back to these fond times – definitely Food For Thought….

Food for thought

Dolmas and a Greek salad a standard childhood staple – and I still have to have my fix once a week at least

greek food

I wonder what your favorite food is for a splash of nostalgia?

One doctor once claimed that nostalgia was a ‘hypochondria of the heart’ that thrives on its symptoms. If nostalgia is a curable disease as Swiss doctors once believed, we hope to offer the cures here at The Nostalgia Exchange through small mementos that will connect you in your own personal way, to a romantic, happy time and place.

I always think a retro typewriter has romantic sentiments – with it’s endless possibilities …. I love this one we have at the moment..


Or maybe a portrait of a distant ancestor…


We’d love to hear what ‘nostalgia’ means to you and about those special objects, books, food or anything else that is dear to you…?



4 thoughts on “What Does Nostalgia Mean?

  1. Pingback: the 80s | emisc

  2. Pingback: Sentimentality and nostalgia, or the lack thereof | LOSTGIRL wildworld

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