There's something about Christmastime that makes so many people instantly happy. As soon as Halloween ends on November 1st, the Christmas playlist comes out and the holiday decorations go up.
People get a lot of hate for getting into the Christmas spirit too early but after reading this study, it makes perfect sense why we're so obsessed with Christmas. A fascinating study performed in Denmark in 2015 actually discovered a holiday center in our brains that shows activity when we think about or experience Christmas-type things. This could be anything from gift wrapping to listening to our favourite Christmas tunes or decorating the Christmas tree!
The objective of this study was to determine where the Christmas spirit in the brain is activated and explains why it gives us that warm and fuzzy feeling!
This study took two small groups of people, one with strong Christmas traditions in their family background and one without any Christmas traditions or ties to the holiday. Both of these groups were shown a series of Christmas-themed images with neutral images in between while their brains were scanned to monitor the activity.
What they found after studying the results of the brain scans was that there was significant activity in 5 different parts of the brain: the sensory motor cortex, the premotor and primary cortex, and the inferior and superior parietal lobules. What was interesting was that the significant activity in these parts of the brain only occurred in the participants that had strong ties to Christmas in their family history. Those that didn't celebrate Christmas or didn't like the holiday, showed no activity in these parts of the brain when the Christmas-themed images were shown during the study.
What this means is that these scientists actually found evidence of a Christmas spirit center in the brain that is activated in people that have a strong love of the holidays in their past. The holiday center of the brain remembers happy times with family and friends, doing all the things we love around this time of year.
It reminds us of those feelings of togetherness and bonding that made us happy in the past and that is why seeing a picture of a Christmas tree covered in sparkling ornaments and lights or a cup of hot cocoa by the fireplace with a dusting of fluffy snow in the window will bring us feelings of joy and happiness.
The scientists who performed this study wanted to insist that this is only preliminary testing of the holiday center done on a very small test population. Further research is necessary for them to fully understand what this holiday center in our brains do and if there could be even more holiday circuits that we don't know about yet!
Read the full study here!