Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Tuesday 03 August |
Saint of the Day: St. Martin
home iconNews
line break icon

Pew finds that most Americans still observe Christmas, but reasons are changing

CHRISTMAS TREE,MAN

David Blackwell | CC BY-ND 2.0

John Burger - published on 12/14/17 - updated on 06/21/18

Ninety percent celebrate, but fewer are going to church

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that while most Americans celebrate Christmas, most U.S. adults believe the holiday’s religious aspects are emphasized less now than in the past.

Nine in 10 Americans say they celebrate Christmas—a figure that hasn’t changed much since 2013, according to the survey, released this week.

But while most Americans say they observe Christmas as a religious holiday, that percentage has dropped slightly.

Half of all Americans say they plan to attend church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, little changed since 2013, the last time Pew Research Center asked the question.

In addition, there has been a noticeable decline in the percentage of American adults who say they believe that biblical elements of the Christmas story reflect historical events that actually occurred:

Currently, 55% of U.S. adults say they celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, including 46% who see it as more of a religious holiday than a cultural holiday and 9% who celebrate Christmas as both a religious and a cultural occasion. In 2013, 59% of Americans said they celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday, including 51% who saw it as more religious than cultural and 7% who marked the day as both a religious and a cultural holiday.

The survey took a look at several Christmas-related areas of concern, including the propriety of greeting strangers (such as customers) with “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays,” whether to display Nativity scenes on public property, and the question of whether Christmas is being secularized:

When asked directly, most respondents in the new poll say they think religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less in American society today than in the past. But relatively few Americans both perceive this trend and are bothered by it. Overall, 31% of adults say they are bothered at least “some” by the declining emphasis on religion in the way the U.S. commemorates Christmas, including 18% who say they are bothered “a lot” by this. But the remaining two-thirds of the U.S. public either is not bothered by a perceived decline in religion in Christmas or does not believe that the emphasis on the religious elements of Christmas is waning.

Pew said that one of the most striking changes in recent years involves the share of Americans who say they believe the birth of Jesus occurred as depicted in the Bible. Today, 66% say they believe Jesus was born to a virgin, down from 73% in 2014, the research group said. Likewise, 68% of U.S. adults now say they believe that the wise men were guided by a star and brought gifts for baby Jesus, down from 75%. And there are similar declines in the shares of Americans who believe that Jesus’ birth was heralded by an angel of the Lord and that Jesus was laid in a manger as an infant.

Overall, 57% of Americans now believe in all four of these elements of the Christmas story, down from 65% in 2014.

Tags:
Christmas
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Saint Mary of the Angels
Bret Thoman, OFS
All your sins will be forgiven if you go to a Franciscan church o...
2
Ignacio María Doñoro
Francisco Veneto
The military chaplain who pretended to be a criminal to rescue a ...
3
JEDZENIE
Theresa Civantos Barber
The one thing we all should do before this summer ends
4
CARLO ACUTIS
Violeta Tejera
Carlo Acutis’ first stained glass window in jeans and sneak...
5
HIDILYN DIAZ
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
6
ANTENUCCI
Ary Waldir Ramos Diaz
1st Feast of Our Lady of Silence is August 1
7
SIMONE BILES
Cerith Gardiner
Simone Biles leaves the Olympics with an important lesson for her...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.