Common Christmas Myths That Most People Believe…But Shouldn’t.
Does brandy really keep you warm in the winter? Are poinsettias plants actually harmful to children? Here you'll uncover 6 holiday myths that have been around for ages.
#1. Myth: Alcohol raises your body temperature and keeps you warm.
It's true that when drinking alcohol you start to feel warmer, but the reality is the opposite - alcohol accelerates heat loss. After a few sips of brandy or vodka, your blood vessels expand and rise to the surface of your skin. This is where the feeling of warmth comes from. That's not a good thing if you're in a dangerously cold situation. This drops your body's core temperature and can lead to hypothermia.
#2. Myth: Poinsettias are extremely toxic and can cause death.
While it's true that poinsettia plants are somewhat toxic, they aren't nearly as toxic as they're thought to be. The main part of the plant to watch out for is its irritating milky white sap, but it tastes so bad that most children won't bother to eat it after the first bite.
The myth originates back to 1919 when a two-year-old baby of an army officer died of poisoning. The cause was incorrectly attributed to a poinsettia leaf.
#3. Myth: There's an increase in the number of suicides during the holiday season.
In truth, suicide rates drop lower during the holiday season than any other time of the year. What does tend to increase during the holidays is Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a type of depression brought about by dark, cold winter days. Basically, it's the weather that's causing it not the holidays.
#4. Myth: Clement Clarke Moore wrote 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.
This one is tricky. The poem was first published in 1823 in the New York Sentinel by an anonymous author. Then in 1837, 21 years later, a paper declared that Clement was the author, which Clement accepted as true. Then it became common belief that Clement wrote it.
Here's why some doubt Clement's claim: Henry Livingston's family say they've been reading the poem aloud on special family occasions for many years before it was even published in the New York Sentinel. Unfortunately, Henry died in 1828 without ever claiming the poem was his and it took 15 years before the family ever knew that Clement took credit for it.
#5. Myth: Half your body heat is lost from your head.
This idea came from a U.S. Army field survival guide. Some scientists were researching survival strategies in arctic weather by making subjects stand in the cold in suits, but without hats. When body heat was lost rapidly, the scientists concluded that most of the loss happens through the head.
The British Medical Journal conducted a study of their own and found that if the people standing in the arctic cold were wearing nothing but swimming trunks only about 10% of their body heat would be lost from their heads.
Go ahead and wear a hat and muffler in cold weather, but the idea that 40% to 50% of body heat is lost through the head isn't true.
#6. Myth: People gain an average of 5 pounds during the holidays.
A study by the New England Journal of Medicine concluded most people don't gain even a single pound over the holidays.
So go ahead and have some more cookies.