December 23, 2013

Christmas also celebrated by many non-Christians


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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  1. Mohd Mansoor Alam10 months ago

    If I am not exaggeting, X-Mas is celebrated by a majority world over. It may be 6-7 out of 10 who celebrate with great show and pomp in India itself. We enjoy an official holiday in India. I am a Muslim and celebrate this as we believe that Jesus is also mine not for christians only.

  2. skillciaX11 months ago

    The reason non-religious people celebrate Christmas is to not feel left out… Get rid of Santa Claus/Easter Bunny and see how many people still celebrate…… It’s blasphemy… My kids learned about Santa in school to the extent the teachers told the kids he was real, and no word of Jesus at all.. Kids are growing up as early as age 3 learning that Christmas is a gift grab holiday simply because they’ve been “good”. I teach my kids that it’s Jesus’s birthday, but yes they still get presents because I don’t want them to feel left out, but we by no means talk about Santa in our house like he’s “real”. It’s all pretend… I do not go out of my way to buy a bunch of Santa crap and elf on the shelf b.s. for my kids… that’s a whole different holiday… You want to celebrate Santa there’s Dec 6th for that. It’s called St. Nicholas Day. Since you liars like to tell your kids Santa is St. Nicholas after they find out Santa isn’t real…

    1. Vlizzle9 months ago

      Guess what, god is also NOT real

  3. Henry12 months ago

    Jeremiah is referring to the Christ-Mass tree. The Catholic encyclopedia admits that Christmas predates Christianity. The origin of it began with the Babylonians. Google “Babylonian Christmas tree”

  4. Michael1 year ago

    Agree with you Jeannie.
    Even though Jeremiah was obviously not referring to the present cutting down of a Christmas tree , the idea is the same, using a tree as a symbol for some religious observance. Too bad people are snookered into thinking this is holy day.
    It is not. What’s holy about hijacking Jesus , who never commanded anyone to observe the
    ‘unknown’ exact date of his birth, but rather asked his followers to regard the death of his
    death as deserving observance, and portraying this secular day to have something to do with his birth? His birth being in a warmer time of the year, early autumn , approx. 6 mos.
    after John’s birth , Elizabeth’s son, when shepherds were still out at night with their flocks.
    It’s such a waste of resources. Going into debt, many, to buy often unnecessary things for people that they may not even be that much interested in who ultimately will probably not use the item, or take it back and exchange it for something else. Why not
    everyone just buy what they need , when they need it and save the gift giving for something or sometime when some one really has a need and will really appreciate it.
    The true spirit of Christian giving that would be, not some obligation fulfilled that in the end just satisfies the need for manufacturers and vendors to turn their fiscal year from
    red to black. Don’t think neither Jesus nor his Father like this type of ”holy day”.

  5. Jeannie1 year ago

    If you do your research, you will find that Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus Christ as so many believe. It takes time and effort to research something, so many choose to go with the larger crowd, that is easier. As a Christian, it would benefit your soul to research the true origin of Christmas. It originated out of a pagan holiday to celebrate the birthday of a god “Saturn”, and was later adopted by the Romans into what we now call Christmas. The devil is deceitful and finds many ways to lure Christians into celebrating him, even if they believe they are celebrating Christ. Is a tradition of man worth taking a chance in sinning against God. Do your research. Where in the bible does it command Christians to celebrate the birth of Christ or anyone else? Jeremiah 10:2-5 was an eye opener for me. How many of you that call your selves Christians will enjoy your Christmas tree after reading the above bible verses, even if you don’t go into the woods and cut it down with an axe.

    1. Scotty Wilks1 year ago

      Im sorry Jeannie, but your statements are partially true at best. While December 25th was originally a pagan holiday, it was adopted as the day to celebrate Christmas by the Christians because it was the day they could worship the birth of Jesus and not be ‘found out’ or ‘persecuted’ for doing so when Christianity was outlawed in most of the world. It was only till later when Constantine I established Christmas on that day formally in efforts to convert the Roman Empire to Christianity, since that day had already been celebrated in both pagan and Christian homes. Secondly, your interpretation of Jeremiah 10:2-5 is false, we find many examples, especially in the Old Testament, of trees being cut down, carved and decorated into idols. One of the prime examples is Asherah. Jeremiah was referring to this practice of idol worship, it has nothing to do with a Christmas tree, as we do not worship Christmas trees. So If YOU do your research, take a little more time and effort and not stop at conclusions you reached in 10mins on the internet, you would be more enlightened.

  6. Susan Humphreys2 years 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?

    1. Besheer Mohamed2 years 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:…

  7. tacitus2 years 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.

    1. Lars Fischer2 years 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.

  8. Dave2 years ago

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