News

Half of Americans see Christmas as religious holiday

Half of Americans see Christmas as religious holiday

CELEBRATE: A new poll shows the majority of Americans celebrate Christmas in some way. Photo: clipart.com

By Mary Wisniewski

(Reuters) – Nine in 10 Americans say they celebrate Christmas – including 80 percent of non-Christians, according to a new poll.

But only half of Americans view Christmas mostly as a religious holiday, while a third view it as more of a cultural holiday, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center. Others said it was both, or gave no opinion.

The poll looked both at how Americans celebrate the season now, and how they celebrated when they were children. Some Christmas traditions have stayed the same for people over the years, while others have faded.

For example, 86 percent said they would attend a gathering with family or friends on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, down slightly from 91 percent who said they did this as children. About 86 percent planned to exchange gifts, a slight drop from the 89 percent who said they did so as children.

Traditions that have fallen off for some respondents include sending holiday or Christmas cards, going caroling and attending religious services.

Slightly over half, or 54 percent of Americans, said they plan to attend Christmas services this year, compared with 69 percent who said they did it as children. That’s compared with 36 percent who say they go to church in a typical week.

Younger adults were the least likely to see Christmas as a religious holiday, at 39 percent, compared with 66 percent of those aged 65 or older, according to the poll.

Younger adults interviewed were also somewhat less likely to believe in the virgin birth. A total of 66 percent of adults between 18 and 29 believe that Jesus was miraculously begotten by God, compared with 76 percent of all other adults, the poll found.

When asked what they most looked forward to about Christmas and the holidays, the vast majority, at 69 percent, said spending time with family and friends. Asked what they liked least, one-third cited commercialism, while 22 percent said the season was too expensive.

The survey interviewed 2,001 U.S. adults between Dec. 3 and 8, by landline and cell phone. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Lisa Shumaker)

Recent Headlines

1 hour ago in National, Olympics, Sports

Flame lands in troubled Brazil for 94-day relay to Games

Fresh
21-overlay-1

President Dilma Rousseff lit the Olympic torch in Brazil's capital on Tuesday and pledged that political turmoil engulfing her nation would not harm the first Games to be held in South America.

2 hours ago in National, World

Islamic State kills U.S. Navy SEAL in northern Iraq

10-overlay-1

Islamic State militants killed a U.S. serviceman in northern Iraq on Tuesday after blasting through Kurdish defences and overrunning a town in the biggest offensive in the area for months.

9 hours ago in Sports

Cavaliers beat Hawks in series opener

14-overlay-1

A week off did not disrupt the Cleveland Cavaliers' momentum, nor was it enough time to alter the Atlanta Hawks' history against them. The Cavaliers still have never lost to the Hawks in the postseason, but this one was not easy.

9 hours ago in Sports

Murray makes his mark as Pens beat Caps

capsREUTERS

The Pittsburgh Penguins do not have a goal yet in the series from Sidney Crosby. Or a power-play goal. What they do have is a 2-1 lead over the Washington Capitals.

9 hours ago in Sports

British soccer team Leicester celebrates 5,000-1 title success

leichesterREUTERS

Leicester City's Premier League title dream became reality on Monday when one of the greatest sporting fairytales reached its conclusion in west London where chasing Tottenham Hotspur were held 2-2 by Chelsea.