December 23, 2013

Christmas also celebrated by many non-Christians

81%

About eight-in-ten non-Christians in the U.S. celebrate Christmas.

Nearly all U.S. Christians (96%) say they celebrate Christmas. No big surprise there. But a new Pew Research Center survey also finds that 81% of non-Christians in the United States celebrate Christmas, testifying to the holiday’s wide acceptance – or, at least, its unavoidability – in American society.

Non-Christians are a diverse group. They include Americans who are religiously unaffiliated (atheists, agnostics and people who describe themselves, religiously, as “nothing in particular”), of whom 87% celebrate Christmas.

They also include people of other faiths. A 2012 Pew Research survey found that roughly three-quarters of Asian-American Buddhists (76%) and Hindus (73%) celebrate Christmas. In addition, our recent survey of U.S. Jews found that about a third (32%) had a Christmas tree in their home last year. And some American Muslims celebrate both the religious and cultural aspects of Christmas, according to news reports.

Although Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate Christmas, the new survey shows they have differing views of the holiday. Two-thirds of Christians (65%) say Christmas is mostly a religious holiday, while most non-Christians see the holiday as more of a “cultural” event than a religious occasion.

Overall, the American religious landscape has become more diverse in recent years. Christians have dropped from 78% of U.S. adults in 2007 to 73% in 2012. Over the same five-year period, the proportion of adults who identify with non-Christian faiths has increased by about half (from 4% to 6% of all U.S. adults) and the ranks of the unaffiliated (sometimes called the “nones”) have increased by a third (from 15% to 20% of all adults).

Category: Daily Number

  1. Photo of Besheer Mohamed

    is a Research Associate at the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.

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5 Comments

  1. Susan Humphreys8 months ago

    I have a question about the rise in “nones”. Are these folks selecting a “none of the above” box on the polls where they are given boxes they could check for different religious groups but also for Atheism, or Humanism. OR are they just given a choice of religious affiliation or none? i am curious as to whether we are getting a rise in people making a conscientious choice away from religion or whether we are seeing a rise in people that are simply getting turned off by and are tuning out to religion and atheism or humanism ? Are we getting an increase in folks that simply don’t care?

    Reply
    1. Besheer Mohamed8 months ago

      This was a telephone survey, so the options were read to the respondents. The religious affiliation question we asked was “What is your present religion, if any? Are you Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, Orthodox such as Greek or Russian Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, something else, or nothing in particular?”

      We included the responses of “atheist”, “agnostic” and “nothing in particular” in our unaffiliated category.

      We actually have an entire report dedicated to the unaffiliated, if you’d like to read more about them: pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on…

      Reply
  2. tacitus9 months ago

    This will come as no surprise to anyone living in Western Europe. Christmas is still a big deal in the UK despite the fact that, perhaps only 10% of all British people are regular churchgoers.

    Christmas has been a major secular holiday for many decades now, even in the United States. Tot up the time, money, and effort put into the various activities revolving around Christmas, and you will likely find that religious devotion comes in a fair way down the list.

    Reply
    1. Lars Fischer9 months ago

      Indeed. In Scandinavia, Christmas *is* a secular holiday to most people. Sure, the Church would like us to think of them, too, but to most people it’s all about family and time together. And, remember, in many languages in Western Europe, “Christmas” (the word) has no relation to Christ or Christianity.

      Reply
  3. Dave9 months ago

    xmas is just another day, but at time and a half.

    Reply