Whether you’re spending the period before Christmas decorating your Christmas tree, wearing festive jumpers or hating every time you hear someone’s Christmassy ringtone and Santa hat depends on how your brain works. If you’ve never liked Christmas that much and couldn’t understand what the big deal was then you are in luck because the bah humbug syndrome has now been explained.
This is the conclusion of a new Danish study that was published in the British Medical Journal. The research used twenty volunteers. The researchers chose 10 people who liked celebrating Christmas and 10 people who didn’t celebrate it. The first group consisted of ten Danes and was called the Christmas group. The second group also included people of Turkish, Indian, Pakistani and Iraqi origin, who had no Christmas traditions. The participants were asked to fill some questionnaires that had questions about Christmas related feelings.
In the second stage of the study they underwent an MRI while they were shown different pictures, including festive and ordinary ones. After studying the results of the MRI, the researchers saw that when they saw the Christmas related pictures, the participants who celebrated Christmas had a notable increase of the neural activation in five different areas of the brain. This specific activation of the brain is usually associated with experiencing emotions share by people close to you and spirituality. Also, the mouth actions that activate some areas are associated with the pleasure you experience when you eat with people close to you. The second group didn’t experience the same things while shown the Christmassy pictures.
The author of the study stated that understanding the work of the Christmas spirit on the brain could help other people understand the bah humbug syndrome. Bah humbug is an expression used in order to show disgust towards Christmas. This expression was made famous by Ebenezer Scrooge, a famous fictional from Charles Dickens’ novel “A Christmas Carol”, who hated Christmas.
Bryan Haddock, one of the researchers, said that when we see Christmas decorations or hear carols without doubt something activates in our brain. That is if Christmas puts you in a good mood of course.
The researchers say that they don’t know whether that activated area of the brain is indeed proof of the Christmas spirit or if another reason stands behind it. They say that because the results of the study were so interesting, revealing the explanation of the bah humbug syndrome, further studies will be done. They will study to see if other holiday traditions have the same impact on the brain.