Have Yourself a Porny Little Christmas

New research shows people are really in the mood this time of year.

Kangah/Getty

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

It could be the gift-giving, the mistletoe, or the spiked eggnog—but something about Christmas seems to make people want to get it on. 

In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, a group of researchers from Portugal and Indiana University analyzed Google searches between 2004 and 2014 and Twitter posts from 2010 to 2014 from nearly 130 countries. They found that online interest in sex (for example, porn searches) “peaks sharply” during Christmas in Christian-majority countries, regardless of hemisphere. The researchers saw the same effect near Eid-al-Fitr, the last day of Ramadan, in Muslim-majority countries. Curiously, they didn’t observe a spike in sex searches around Easter or Thanksgiving.

By analyzing word choice on the internet, the researchers also found that around holidays, people feel happier and calmer, which corresponds with an interest in sex. “This collective emotion is universal and maximized during cultural celebrations such as Christmas and Eid-al-Fitr,” the authors write. 

Sex-related Google searches from January 2004 to February 2014 for a set of Northern, Christian-majority countries. The red line marks Christmas week for each year.

Birth rates peak in September—about nine months after the winter holidays—and America’s most common birthday is September 9, followed by September 19. This phenomenon is often attributed to seasonal changes and biological cycles, but a measured spike in interest in sex around the holidays, the authors argue, is evidence that the phenomenon is actually rooted in societal customs. 

“Perhaps people feel a greater motivation to grow their families during holidays when the emphasis is on love and gift-giving to children,” said Luis Rocha, one of the study’s researchers and a professor of informatics in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at Indiana University, in a press release. “The Christmas season is also associated with stories about the baby Jesus and holy family, which may put people in a loving, happy, ‘family mood.'”

The results of this study go beyond uncovering a fun tidbit of information. It could also have real-world implications. “Hospitals should be prepared for an increase in STD testing and possibly even abortions in the weeks following such holidays and when the corresponding collective mood is observed at other times of the year,” the authors write. 

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate