The science on Christmas

When the weather outside is frightful, some researchers turn to the holidays.

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is everywhere you turn. Yes, holiday cheer has crept into even the cold, analytical world of scientific research. We’ve compiled five of our favorite papers on Christmas and the festivities that surround it. So grab your eggnog and cookies, settle down by the fire, and enjoy some seasonally appropriate scientific reading.

1. We start with the big man himself: Santa Claus. It seems lugging that heavy sack of presents around the world is bound to cause some balance issues—at least according to this study, which considers the likelihood that Santa will suffer a fall or two this year:

Jeopardizing Christmas: Why spoiled kids and a tight schedule could make Santa Claus fall

2. What will Santa find when he seeks medical treatment for any injuries he sustains? Hopefully not doctors who’ve had too much alcoholic pudding. It looks like he’ll be safe at one Australian hospital, where researchers delved into the cafeteria’s Christmas lunch and the blood alcohol contents of the staff who’ve consumed it:

What proof is in your Christmas pudding? Is caring under the influence possible?

pudding
(Source: Medical Journal of Australia)

3. Christmas trees are another staple of any Christmas celebration. It might never have occurred to you that something people buy every year could benefit from some good, old-fashioned PR. Don’t worry, the Lower Austrian Christmas Tree Growers Association is on it:

Public Relations for Christmas Trees: Does Professional PR make a Difference? Evaluation of the PR of the Christmas Tree Grower’s Association from Lower Austria

4. Of course having a fine, Austrian-grown Christmas tree is little consolation if you’re suffering from that bane of Christmas tree decorators world-wide: needle loss. According to this study, the water in your tree stand might be hosting bacteria that are to blame:

A link between water quality and bacterial growth in Christmas tree stands with postharvest needle abscission in balsam fir

5. Now that you’ve vacuumed all those balsam needles out of the carpet, some holiday baking is likely on the agenda. For a nutritional boost, consider using sugar beet molasses instead of honey in your gingerbread this year:

Use of sugar beet molasses in processing of gingerbread type biscuits: Effect on quality characteristics, nutritional profile, and bioavailability of calcium and iron

Remember, with that high risk of falling, Santa’s going to need all the calcium he can get.

Featured image courtesy of *Nom & Malc.