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 senior researcher focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.