In addition to being the time of lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you, Christmas turns out to be the most lethal day of the year. By a long shot. Followed by New Year’s Day. Followed by the other 363 days of the year, more or less in a heap, though the rate slopes up for a few weeks pre-Xmas, then sinks after the big day.
The observation was made several times in the last decade or so, first with cardiac disease—the so-called Merry Christmas Coronary (here and here)—and then with other diseases, with increasingly incontrovertible data. Scrooge rules. The one that clinched it was carried out by a team of sociologists in balmy, non-Christmas-y La Jolla, Calif.: “Christmas and New Year as Risk Factors for Death.” They took 25 years of death certificates (about 57 million deaths) and plotted out each dead-on-arrival or died-in the-emergency-room death, according to the Julian day-at-a-time calendar. According to their way of slicing up the bad news, thousands more people over the years have died on these two holidays than on any other day. (The graphs tell the story quickly.) That’s a lot of bereft holiday families.
Data-based observations of this sort invariably bring out the theorists, each with his own axe to grind or idea to sell, or to confidently proclaim that this is yet another example of [hare-brained theory here] in action.