|"At Christmas you are supposed to get presents, not extra pounds."|
I rather decided to look back years and started browsing the annals of various scientific databases to come up with a couple of interesting facts about Christmas... ok, ok, I expected more interesting facts, as well, but aside from a 5% increased risk of dying, Christmas is apparently a pretty boring undertaking ;-)
In other words: Don't complain that you'd rather have had a write-up of on the pro-anabolic effect of the Christmas goose and the caloric expenditure on your way to the church. Today's SuppVersity article is like a Christmas present. It may not be exactly what you had wished for.
- Men and women are different - even when it comes to Chrismas shopping -- According to a 2009 paper by Michel Laroche et al., females comprehensively acquire in-store information,
whereas males appear to heuristically limit their search to a smaller
subset of in-store information.
Figure 1: Gender differences in number of trips, the beginning and end of Christmas shopping
- You have been tricked - how the smell and sound of Christmas are to blame that you spent so much money on Christmas gifts this year -- Back in 2005 Spangenberg et al. conducted an interesting study to explore the joint effects of ambient scent and music on
consumers' evaluations of a store, its environment and offered
merchandise. The corresponding experiment had a 2 (no scent vs. Christmas scent) × 2 (non-Christmas music
vs. Christmas music) design and was implemented in a mock
retail store. As Spangenberg et al. point out, the results indicate that the effects of adding an ambient
Christmas scent are moderated by the nature of the background music.
Figure 2: Reactions to the retailer and merchandise with / w/out scent and music (Spangenberg. 2009)
So, next year you better go shopping with a nose clip and ear plugs... apropos, did you know that the nose clip could also come handy during the Christmas holidays? In a 2004 study by Wijk et al. subjects ingested 11% less of a delicious full fat custard dessert, when they had their nose clips. For the low fat variety which had a less pleasant mouth-feel, the reduction was even ~50% (Wijk. 2004)!
Figure 3: The underlying reasons of the increases in cardiac and non-cardiac deaths during the holidays is not clear.
According to the data David P. Phillips et al. present in their 2004 paper (see Figure 3), your risk of dying from cardiac and non-cardiac death during the Christmas/New Year’s holiday period is 4.65% and 4.99% higher, anyways.
While the underlying reasons of this phenomenon are not entirely clear, Kloner et al. hypothesize that it may be brought about by ...
- colder weather, leading to increased vascular resistance, coronary spasm, hemostasis and thrombus formation, O2 demand
- decreased hours of daylight
- "postponement of death", i.e. people want to see their loved ones before they die and pass away quietly after Christmas
- inappropriate delays in seeking medical attention
- increased emotional stress
- reduced levels of healthcare staffing or fewer staff members who are familiar with individual patients during holiday on-call schedules
- overindulgence (eg, increased intake of food, salt, fats, alcohol)
- increased respiratory problems (eg, upper respiratory infection, influenza, particulate matter generated from wood-burning fireplaces)
- Santa gets bigger and bigger as christmas approaches - at least in the images first graders draw -- If the data Ray A. Cradick presents in a 1961 is still valid, you just have to look at the size of the Santas in children's drawings to tell how long we still have to wait for his arrival.
In view of the fact that the Santas did not return to "normal" size immediately after Christmas the drawings of their kids are yet not a reliable method for people who want to know when he or they have to work again ;-)
In some people even the most "delicate" presents won't drive away the holiday blues (photo (c) Columbia Pictures Corporation)
According to Cattell, people who have "few or no well established relations outside the family, a very ambivalent relationship with present family, and have a history of disruption of family constellation with divorce or parental demise" (Cattell. 1955) are most likely to suffer.
In other words: This is not the regular tantrum we all get due to the presence, not absence of our loved ones. Maybe that's why the suicide rates on Christmas Eve are actually 30% lower than during the rest of the year. The lonesome warriors appear to wait until they slept the alcohol off and jump off the bridge on January 2, when the 30% decrease in suicide rates on Christmas Eve is compensated by similar pronounced increase in the number of suicides (Jessen. 1999).
- Cattell, J. P. (1955). The holiday syndrome. Psychoanalytic Review.
- Cradick, R. A. (1961). Size of Santa Claus drawings as a function of time before and after Christmas. Journal of Psychological Studies.
- Jessen, G., & Jensen, B. F. (1999). Postponed suicide death? Suicides around birthdays and major public holidays. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 29(3), 272-283.
- Laroche, M., Saad, G., Cleveland, M., & Browne, E. (2000). Gender differences in information search strategies for a Christmas gift. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 17(6), 500-522.
- Spangenberg, E. R., Grohmann, B., & Sprott, D. E. (2005). It's beginning to smell (and sound) a lot like Christmas: the interactive effects of ambient scent and music in a retail setting. Journal of Business Research, 58(11), 1583-1589.
- Sproll, C., Ruge, W., Andlauer, C., Godelmann, R., & Lachenmeier, D. W. (2008). HPLC analysis and safety assessment of coumarin in foods. Food chemistry, 109(2), 462-469.
- Phillips, D. P., Jarvinen, J. R., Abramson, I. S., & Phillips, R. R. (2004). Cardiac Mortality Is Higher Around Christmas and New Year’s Than at Any Other Time The Holidays as a Risk Factor for Death. Circulation, 110(25), 3781-3788.
- Wijk, R. A., Polet, I. A., Engelen, L., van Doorn, R. M., & Prinz, J. F. (2004). Amount of ingested custard dessert as affected by its color, odor, and texture. Physiology & behavior, 82(2), 397-403.