The so-called “war on Christmas” is a big deal to a lot of people, but as with many issues, people on the poles don’t reflect the position of the vast number of people.
For the very religious, always referencing Christmas rather than “the holidays” is important recognition of one of the most important days on the Christian calendar as the birthday of Jesus Christ. Those determined to battle against the nation’s Christian traditions seek no official recognition of Christmas – particularly by government.
Neither side will particularly like How Americans Celebrate Christmas, a study by SafeHome.org using Pew Research Center data. The results make clear that Christmas is popular, whether a person is religious or not, and is not going away.
An estimated nine in 10 American adults will celebrate Christmas in some form. For most, that means gathering with family and friends, exchanging gifts and sharing meals, though it doesn’t necessarily mean attending church.
Despite being one of the most important dates on the Christian calendar, just over half of Americans’ Christmas plans include a decidedly religious element — a religious service. Only 51% of people said their plans include Christmas Eve or Christmas Day services, and for younger Americans, those figures are lower (about 42% of millennials).
The fact that 90% of Americans plan to celebrate Christmas is astounding when you consider that 30% of Americans aren’t even Christian — they’re religiously unaffiliated, atheist, agnostic, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Wiccan or some other faith tradition. And even some Christians, like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-Day Adventists, may not celebrate Christmas.
Christmas dominates American culture for at least a month, though the holiday season seems to come earlier and earlier every year: Rolling Stone reported in November that Mariah Carey’s holiday classic “All I Want for Christmas Is You” was rising up the charts — weeks before Thanksgiving, let alone Christmas.
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SafeHome.org looked deeper into the data to reach conclusions on patterns that exist in the American population from a geographic standpoint for those who either don’t mark Christmas or don’t think of it as religious. In other words, does where one lives in the U.S. help predict whether they’ll be in church on Christmas?
To understand the patterns, SafeHome.org examined the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study based on surveys of thousands of Americans from all 50 states and the District of Columbia about their religious beliefs and affiliations.
The results should come as no surprise to people in South Carolina, a religious state with roots deep in Christianity. The state ranks No. 42 with only 22.6% of residents not Christian or celebrating religiously. That means more than three-quarters of the state’s people identify as Christians and/or associate with Christmas’ Christian roots.
Key national findings:
• The top 10 non-religious Christmas states are: Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Montana, California and Hawaii.
• The top 10 religious Christmas states are: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia and South Carolina.
As Christmas nears, be happy about the study’s conclusion: “Regardless of whether it’s a holiday that you’ll spend sharing food and drinks with family and friends, exchanging gifts or practicing your faith, the vast majority of Americans will celebrate Christmas in one way or another. Whether it’s cultural or religious, this may be one of only a few issues that draws so much agreement among Americans.”
Find the study at https://www.safehome.org/how-we-celebrate-christmas/