Move over ‘O Holy Night,’ only half of Americans see Christmas as religious

BY newsdesk  December 18, 2013 at 5:50 PM EST


Christmas is a traditionally considered a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but a recent study shows just over half of Americans see it as a religious holiday. Photo by Sebastien Nogier/AFP/Getty Images

While the vast majority of Americans celebrate Christmas, only about half say they see it as mostly a religious holiday, according to a recent Pew Research study. One third of those polled consider it a cultural celebration focused on exchanging gifts and spending time with family.

While 86 percent of Americans say they plan to attend a gathering of family or friends on Christmas Eve or Christmas and purchase presents for loved ones, only 54 percent plan to attend a religious service over the holiday that theologically observes the birth of Jesus Christ.

Generational differences played a role in how Americans planned to celebrate Christmas. Adults under the age of 30 say they are less likely than older adults to include religious elements into their celebration or attend religious services. This is consistent with previous Pew research that found in 2012 that one-third of young adults are religiously unaffiliated today, a number that has grown rapidly in recent years.

And among the religiously unaffiliated, nearly 90 percent said they celebrate Christmas, most of whom said for them the holiday is more of a cultural holiday.

And if the little ones aren’t looking, check out Pew’s findings on Santa Claus towards the bottom of the article.

The Pew survey of about 2,000 people was conducted from Dec. 3 through Dec. 8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent.