Christmas is Deadliest Day of the Year: Why?

angel, man, wings, question, generic, 4x3
angel, man, wings, question, generic, 4x3

(CBS) Christmas may celebrate the birth of Jesus, but it's also the most likely day for Americans to meet their maker, literally.

That's according to a new analysis of mortality rates over the 25-year period between 1974 to 2004 which found an excess 42,325 deaths in the two week period starting with Christmas.

The deadliest days of the year were Christmas, New Years Day and Boxing Day (a secular holiday typically the day after Christmas).

Researchers David Phillips, Gwendolyn Barker and Kimberly Brewer from the University of San Diego found big spikes in people who were either dead on arrival or died in emergency settings. That held true for the top five death categories (circulatory diseases, tumors, respiratory diseases, endocrine/nutritional/metabolic diseases, and digestive diseases).

The increased chance of dying during the holiday season is "somewhere between 3 and 9 percent, depending on the demographic group you're looking at, and somewhere between 1 and 10 percent, depending on what cause of death you're looking at," Phillips told the National Post.

The big question is why and unfortunately researchers don't really have a good answer.

So if you've been naughty, now is probably a good time to be nice.

The research was published in "Social Science & Medicine."