Astronauts celebrate Christmas in style – but gravy, booze and telly are banned

With astronauts more than 250 miles above the Earth's surface moving at a terrifying 17,000 mph, Christmas must be a hard time to be up in space away from your family.

There's no booze, no gravy, and certainly no Mrs Brown's Boys. Astronauts have to spend most of their time working and performing vital scientific research during the most wonderful time of the year.

Luckily, astronauts on the International Space Station do get time to celebrate in their own way, from a Christmas dinner to presents and even a Christmas tree.

Let's look at how astronauts celebrate Christmas in outer space.

What do astronauts eat for Christmas dinner?

Christmas dinner is a faff at the best of times here on Earth, but in zero gravity, Christmas dinner is an almost microwaveable affair.

First off, you can forget about gravy and booze. Alcohol is banned on the Space Station as it is a huge safety hazard, while liquid gravy has a tendency to float away.

Salty foods are also a no-no, as astronauts need to remain in peak physical condition and salt can weaken their bones in zero g.

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While this year's menu is still yet to be revealed, last year's was surprisingly close to an Earth Christmas lunch—at least, an American one, due to the make-up of the space station.

The 2020 Christmas menu included:

  • Roast turkey
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Potato gratin
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Sweetcorn
  • Spicy green beans
  • Bread sauce

For dessert, the astronauts were treated to a cherry cobbler, cookies, a vanilla cappuccino, and something called "sparkle gel".

Apparently, the Russian side of the space station also has "really good" mashed potatoes.

Those aboard the ISS have to have their Christmas dinner delivered weeks in advance. Last year, it was shipped up to the space station in a bundle with some meteor samples and live mice. (The mice were not for eating.)

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When do astronauts get to open Christmas presents?

Sadly, astronauts on the ISS have a lot of work to do and don't have time to put their feet up and watch Mrs. Brown's Boys. However, they do get to celebrate with some presents.

Their families are able to send care packages with gifts in them on a SpaceX shuttle.

In 2017, astronaut Captain Scott Tingle shared his account of how his team spent Christmas day, giving an insight into what Christmas is like in space.

He wrote: "We wrapped up our busy week and celebrated Saturday night by enjoying some rehydrated meats and instant juices! Christmas Eve, we had a few tasks that kept us busy, and the same on Christmas Day."

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"Fortunately, we were able to have video conferences with our families over the holiday, and it was really nice to talk with them."

"We also had a very short celebration for Christmas after work was done. Our wonderful Behavioural Health Professionals at NASA had sent us Christmas stockings in the SpaceX cargo delivery."

Their Christmas stockings included socks bought by the captain—specifically, superhero socks.

The different astronauts onboard that year got Hulk, Spiderman, Deadpool, Superman, and Batman socks.

The captain signed off by saying: "NOW, we are ready to conquer space!"

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One popular ISS Christmas tradition that has apparently caught on over the years is making 'snowmen' out of space suits.

The astronauts stuff the space suits and put Santa hats on them, as well as leave milk powder and dried cookies out for Santa.

As they orbit the Earth six times in one night, they could certainly give the old chap a run for his money.

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