Episode 72: Very Merry Christmas Science

Very Merry Christmas Science


‘Tis the season for some very merry science as The Struggling Scientists Podcast unwraps the fascinating world of Christmas-themed scientific studies in their special 72nd episode. Join hosts Suzanne and Jayron as they dive into research highlighting the festive and sometimes unexpected science behind Christmas. From the facial phenotype of Father Christmas to the impact of Christmas family visits on gut microbiome, and even the unique brain activity associated with holiday images, this episode delivers a delightful blend of scientific inquiry and festive cheer.

Here comes Father Christmas

The episode kicks off with an exploration of the distinctive facial phenotype of Father Christmas, informed by an article from the journal Vision. The study utilized image analysis software to determine the modern face of Santa Claus, concluding that Father Christmas does possess a distinctive facial phenotype compared to adult men and elderly bearded men. This whimsical study offers a lighthearted but amusing insight into the science behind the portrayal of a beloved holiday figure.

The Gut-Wrenching Science of Christmas Family Visits

The podcast delves into the intriguing realm of gut microbiome with a study from the Human Microbiome Journal, exploring the potential impact of Christmas family visits on gut health. Despite the study’s humorous elements, such as the presence of a pooping statue in the imagery and references to a South Park episode, the research reveals a notable decrease in specific bacteria associated with physiological stress and depression among participants who visited their in-laws during Christmas. This lighthearted yet informative investigation intertwines scientific findings with a whimsical holiday twist.

Last Christmas.. I gave you myocardial infarction

Shifting gears, The Struggling Scientists Podcast explores the Scandinavian Cardiovascular Journal’s investigation into the heightened risk of myocardial infarction during the Christmas holidays, noting a 37% higher risk on Christmas Eve. The study revealed that patients experiencing myocardial infarction during the holidays exhibited elevated levels of stress and emotional distress, shedding light on the potential impact of holiday stressors on cardiovascular health. This segment illuminates a thought-provoking intersection between festive celebrations and health outcomes, reminding listeners of the importance of holiday well-being.

The Secret Life of Snowflakes

Venturing into the enchanting world of snowflakes, the podcast unveils the captivating journey of snow crystals from atmospheric formation to their unique and intricate structures. This segment weaves together the science behind snowflake formation with a touch of environmental consciousness, offering a delightful exploration of the natural splendor of winter.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The episode concludes with an exploration of the brain’s response to Christmas imagery, drawing from a study in the British Journal of Medicine. The research revealed a specific neural activation pattern associated with holiday-themed images, highlighting the brain’s recognition of the Christmas spirit. This segment infuses neuroscience with the festive spirit, unraveling the intricate ways in which holiday experiences are processed in the mind.


As this very merry Christmas special comes to a close, The Struggling Scientists Podcast invites listeners to immerse themselves in the joyful journey through Christmas science. From the light-hearted examination of Father Christmas’s facial features to the thought-provoking insights into holiday stress and the brain’s response to Yuletide imagery, this episode offers a delightful combination of scientific exploration and festive cheer. So, sit back, relax, and let the Struggling Scientists guide you through the curious, entertaining, and heartwarming world of Christmas science. Happy holidays and may the wonder of scientific exploration brighten your festive season.

Rather listen to the epsidoe on your favorite podcast platform?
Not to worry, here are the links to Spotify & Apple Podcast as well.

Also consider checking out one of our previous episodes about the Ig Noble prizes from 2023.

Until next time !

It would really help us if you leave a rating on your favorite Podcast Listening Platform!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *