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One night each year, tiny magic reindeer pull Santa and his toy-filled sleigh around the world. Their names are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and maybe Rudolph (or Robbie, if you're under the age of 30 - editors), and flying reinder are an impressive feat, especially on a site with some very cranky physicists who take that sort of thing literally.

But what about the non-magical reindeer that don't fly, don't have cool names and who spend each day moving throughout the Alaskan and Canadian tundra hanging out with caribou rather than elves? Don't they deserve some attention too?

On a science site they sure do.

It is not only joy and goodwill that epitomize Christmas and the New Year. It is also stress, unrealistic expectations, letdowns, tension and, not least, drinking and partying.

This can be one of the worst times of the year for someone with alcohol issues: office parties, family parties, neighbours' parties; it goes on and on. Then comes January and the New Year, with bleak days and broken promises. For some the merriment of Christmas and the New Year masks a much deeper problem: a dependency on alcohol that can easily be passed-off as over-indulgence.

The Priory Hospital receive 20%* more enquiries to their addictions unit in January than many other times of the year.

Arrive at your In-Law's unprepared at Christmas and you may find yourself sitting in someone else's living room, unable to get to the remote control, and nothing but "The Wizard of Oz" on the TV.  Not that that could be bad (the movie), we're just saying.

A good majority of us end up away from home for at least one night staying with relatives. Like anything in life, Christmas is what you make it. So when packing your overnight bag for the festive season make sure you take enough entertainment of your own.

Here are our top survival tips to make it through Christmas:
1. Pack a book. Michael Parkinson's autobiography at 412 pages should take a couple of days even for the most prolific reader.

We all know how hard it is to avoid tasty treats such as chocolate and crisps but it is even more challenging over the festive season.

According to the British Heart Foundation, the average person will consume around 7000 calories on Christmas Day alone; the recommended daily intake for a woman is 2000 calories and 2500 for men.

Snacking is one of the biggest causes of overeating but there are ways in which we can combat this over Christmas and beyond. A recent hypothesis by Dr. James Painter of East Illinois University recommends adopting 'The Pistachio Principle'.

Dr Painter states that: "For example, people will eat larger portions when served food on a bigger plate, and will consume more alcohol when drinking from a wider glass.

Scientists at The Babraham Institute have begun to unpick the complex mechanisms underpinning the development of drug resistant cancers. They have identified a novel target that may help to combat the growing problem of therapy resistant cancers and pave the way for innovative therapeutic approaches. 

Their discovery, reported in the latest edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, centres on the significance of DNA damage for both normal cells and cancer cells. It reveals that a biochemical signalling pathway, that normally ensures damaged cells are diverted towards cellular suicide, is blocked in certain cancers, rendering them resistant to certain types of treatment. 
It was Christmas Eve, 1858 when “people who in the streets, on pathways and in the fields saw a magnificent ball of fire appear, which shone with a brilliant, blinding light and all the colors of the rainbow, obscured the light of the moon and descended majestically from the sky.”  

This was the description of the meteorite that fell that evening, from a report commissioned by Rafael Martínez Fortún, of the town of Molina de Segura in Murcia, whose farm was struck by what is still the largest meteorite recovered in Spain.  Since 1863, it has been exhibited in the National Museum of Natural Sciences.