Christmas still about Jesus, say 80%

19 December 2006

by Pat Ashworth

EIGHTY PER CENT of respondents said that celebrating the birth of Christ was still an important part of Christmas, and 90 per cent believed the festival was too commercialised, in a survey whose results were published on Monday by the public-theology think tank Theos.

The results reflected that view most strongly among older people, but it was shared by many others.

In the 18-24 and 25-34 age ranges, 71 per cent agreed on the importance of celebrating Christ’s birth, and 77 and 88 per cent respectively agreed that Christmas was too commercial.

Spending time with family and friends was the best thing about Christmas for 86 per cent of people in the survey of 1000, conducted by CommunicateResearch. That figure can be compared with seven per cent who preferred time off work, three per cent who preferred food and drink, and two per cent for whom presents were the best thing.

A total of 77 per cent across the age groups agreed that “Christmas makes me think about what’s important to me.” More men than women (84 per cent, as opposed to 70 per cent) believed that to be true. The percentage here was highest in the 18-24 age group.

Sixty-two per cent agreed that Christmas made them think of spiritual things — a figure that fell to 43 per cent in the 18-24 group, and rose to 70 per cent among the over-65s. Social class showed less variation: 62 per cent of ABs, and 66 per cent of DEs.

Asked what was the worst thing about Christmas, 43 per cent said it was the financial pressures, felt most in the age group 25-34. The absence of loved ones came next (26 per cent); then eating and drinking too much (18 per cent); and family arguments (seven per cent).

The director of Theos, Paul Woolley, commented: “There is an annual rash of ‘Winterval’ and ‘political correctness gone mad’ stories, but the results of this poll reflect what’s really going on in the UK. The majority of people are more inspired by the values of faith, family, and friends than is often imagined.” These values, he said, contributed to people’s well-being.

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