After analysing data from Google searches in 129 countries between 2009 and 2016, a team of five researchers marked Kenya as a red spot on a chart, meaning it experiences a sharp spike in searches related to sex on Christmas. Six other African countries were coded red among the 64.
Interest in sex
“Out of the 80 countries [among the 129] originally identified as Christian, 80 per cent show a significant increase during the Christmas week, regardless of the hemisphere,” the researchers wrote.
The study aimed at finding out whether the festive season has an association with sexual activity.
The finding was that Christmas and Idd-ul-Fitr, two major holidays for Christians and Muslims, respectively, actually spike interest in sex regardless of whether a person is on the northern or the southern hemisphere.
“Interest in sex peaks sharply online during major cultural and religious celebrations, regardless of hemisphere location,” they wrote. “This online interest, when shifted by nine months, corresponds to documented human births.”
The study, titled Human Sexual Cycles are Driven by Culture and Match Collective Moods, was published in nature.com.
It was done by Ian Wood and Luis Rocha of the School of Informatics and Computing in Indiana University in the United States alongside Pedro Varela and Joana Gonçalves-Sá of the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Portugal.
The team relied on online search and Twitter data because not all countries have birth records.
“Recent availability of large-scale population data from Web searches and social media now allows us to study collective social behaviour on a global scale. In this work, we gauge interest in sex directly from Google searches and characterise seasonal population sentiment from the analysis of Twitter feeds,” they wrote.
They focused on the various theories to inform why births tend to peak in September in Western countries in the Northern Hemisphere.
Whereas there are many theories to support the spike in births, the researchers said copulation during the festive season is a major contributor.
It is during religious celebratory seasons that people seem to have the word “sex” included more in their Google searches.
“In Christian countries, the only clear peak occurs during the Christmas week. In contrast, in Muslim countries there is a peak during the week of Eid-ul-Fitr and a second peak during the week of Eid-al-Adha, the other major religious and family celebration in Muslim culture,” the researchers stated.
And in Christian countries where Christmas is not celebrated on December 25, like in Orthodox churches in northern Russia and Serbia, there was no increase in sex-related searches around December 25.
However, the researchers were quick to elaborate how their findings on Christmas and Eid should be interpreted.
“It is, in fact, very counter-intuitive to think of Christmas and Eid as the times of the year with the most online searches for sex,” they said. “However, these events may trigger specific and collective moods, leading to a striking correspondence between these holidays and sexual interest.”
One of the explanations they gave for the trend is that happy moods are more conducive for sexual interest; same as increased food consumption.
The input of their study, they said, should be that hospitals should be “prepared for an increase in STD testing and possibly even abortions in the weeks following such holidays”.
The Nation asked Rev Beatrice Sabato, the manager of Christamarianne Mission Hospital in Kisii, whether it is true that births spike around nine months after Christmas.
“It seems that the research is right and December, especially during the festive times, is a prime baby making time,” she said. “In this hospital, the maternity wing is very active in September.”
She noted that according to the hospital’s data, a majority of women who give birth during the month are aged below 30.
Dr Mary Nyagwoka, a medical expert and counsellor, said at times many women get carried away by the celebrations and fail to control themselves.
She said a majority of those who get pregnant end up regretting and hating the festive period.
“I have shared with a number of ladies who get pregnant during the festive season and they always regret it. They even think of aborting the pregnancies but we advise them to carry the babies,” she said.
She also said that some of the girls in most cases are underage.
“They ask for permission from their parents, deceiving them that they are going to safe places only to end up in clubs drinking. Later they find themselves in compromising situations,” Dr Nyagwoka said.
The counsellor advised Kenyans to be cautious during the festive season.