Study: Religious or Not, US Loves Christmas

December 23, 2015
Gale Scott

Though physicians are less likely to belong to an organized religion than the average US resident, they are just as likely to be caught up in the cultural pressure to celebrate Christmas. More than 90% of US residents, despite relious beliefs or lack of them, celebrate the holiday.

Though physicians are less likely to belong to an organized religion than the average US resident, they are just as likely to be caught up in the cultural pressure to celebrate Christmas.

A Pew Research Center study looked into cultural attitudes and controversies surround Christmas in the US.

Among its findings: lack of religious affiliation is no barrier to celebrating Christmas. Fully 92% of Americans said they celebrate the holiday, including 81% of non-Christians.

Of those surveyed, about three-quarters of Asia- Americans and nearly a third of US Jews said they put up a Christmas tree.

The millennial generation is less religious than older generations. Of the 92% of millennials who said they celebrate Christmas, only 40% said they see it as a religious holiday while 68% of the oldest (“silent generation”) Americans who celebrate Christmas see it as religious.

Millennials, despite their lack of religious faith, are the most enthusiastic when it comes to Christmas traditions.

Ninety percent planned to attend a gathering of family or friends, compared to 85% of silent generation members. In this young group 81% were putting up a Christmas tree, versus 75% of older people; 91% were buying gifts compared to 79% of older people, and they were even slightly more likely at 16% to say they planned on singing Christmas carols (vs. 15% of older people.)

On the sensitive question of whether to use “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” as the appropriate greeting, 42% of the overall group surveyed said they preferred Merry Christmas and 46% saying it did not matter.

The researchers found few objection to the tradition of gift-giving. They found 83% saying they felt “joyful” about the prospect, 78% feeling “generous” and only 23% had a Scrooge-like response that gift-giving is “wasteful.”

Still, 46% said the holidays left them stretched thin financially and 36% reported being stressed out.

The results came from a December 2013 study, with further analysis of findings done this month, according to Pew.