Christmas Changes the Brain, According to Science

    Christmas changes people's brains, since changes in the environment stimulate or inhibit the production of different neurotransmitters

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    Christmas is a different time in which most of us carry out activities in which we do not lavish ourselves throughout the year. There is a general change of attitude in people, while the decoration of the streets and houses also change. All this makes it a special season, full of affective and social stimuli.

    As is obvious, this transformation that occurs during Christmas in customs and in the physical environment has its effect on the brain. Now, a scientific study has verified that, indeed, this time favors a different brain activity. Likewise, changes in habits and in the environment modify the mind.

    A study on Christmas and the brain

    A group of scientists from the University of Copenhagen carried out research on the effects of Christmas on the brain. Their objective was to locate the “Christmas spirit” within brain activity, and for this they used functional magnetic resonance imaging.

    For the study, two groups of people were used. One of them corresponded to those who had celebrated Christmas since childhood and had a positive attitude towards these dates. The other group was not used to having Christmas celebrations.

    In the first group, activation of certain brain areas was detected when faced with images or stimuli that evoked Christmas. Specifically, changes were observed in the sensory motor cortex, the primary and premotor cortex, and the parietal lobe. In the other group these reactions were not seen.

    What does this mean?

    That those who keep Christmas traditions in mind react to them by putting aspects such as memory and motor sensations into play. Apparently, this time activates deep memories and evocations. That is the reason why the brain seems to present a different activation pattern on these dates than at other times of the year.

    Christmas experiences

    Variations in the environment cause changes in mood and, of course, this has a referent in the brain. During Christmas, customs, events, people’s attitudes and even the appearance of houses and streets change. So, to a greater or lesser extent, there is a transformation in the mind.

    It is not possible to make a generalization about the way in which Christmas changes the brain. It depends on each environment and each person. However, what is possible is to establish the factors that have the potential to produce modifications. They are next.

    Purchases and commitments

    It is common for Christmas to have more social commitments than usual. There are more meetings, goodbyes, parties and all sorts of events. Likewise, the common thing is that at this time is spent shopping for gifts, in the midst of crowded stores. All of this together increases stress.

    Most often, those who experience a positive feeling with Christmas also feel a certain sadness when it`s over. There may be a feeling of exhaustion or emptiness, accompanied by the obligation to return to the routine.


    Christmas and gifts are like bread and butter: they often go together. Both giving and receiving gifts produce emotional satisfaction. Generosity is associated with the release of dopamine and endorphins. This increases the feeling of well-being.

    It is also the case that you cannot give all the gifts you would like, or that you do not receive enough gifts. If so, there may be some disappointment or sadness. If this is your case, the best way out is to give yourself a gift that partially fills that void.

    Contact with others

    During Christmas more contact is established with other people. It is important to regulate this well, so that it is not overwhelming, especially for those who do not feel comfortable socializing with such intensity. For the rest, it is excellent to fill yourself with the good Christmas attitude of others.

    The excesses

    This time, without a doubt, lends itself to excesses. In particular, in spending, eating and drinking. Going over the limit usually has consequences, which in the end are only noticeable in January. Better control yourself a bit and enjoy these festivities in moderation. Christmas is a wonderful time and almost no one is indifferent to it. Being mentally and emotionally located in this stage makes it possible to live in an adequate way, nurturing the positive changes that the Christmas festivities bring and regulating everything so that there are no undesirable effects later.

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