The 14th Annual Survey of Christmas shows that Christmas remains as popular as ever with 95 percent of all respondents indicating at least some form of Christmas celebration.
More than 4,000 individuals were surveyed online and offline over a 60-day period during the summer of 2013 in eight different areas of the United States: Raligh-Durham, Dallas-Fort Worth, Tx. Los Angeles-San Diego, Chicago, Memphis, Boise, Oklahoma City, and Boston. Online survey participants were mixed, with 73% coming from North America and the remaining mostly from the UK.
Christmas remains by far the most popular holiday on the American calendar. 57 percent indicated they prefer Christmas over 2nd-favorite holiday of Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving, Independence Day and New Year's Day. 74 percent said Christmas is more important than any other event during the year, including vacations and birthdays.
71 percent recognize Christmas primarily as a religious holiday yet 98 percent indicate that "Christmas is for everyone, even the non-religious".
In defining Christmas 82% say that "Christmas is about peace on earth", ahead of gifting, worship, and family activity.
Despite the clear influence of dominating economic conditions 88 percent of survey takes think 2013 will being a good Christmas experience, with 57 percent willing to predict that their Christmas "will be merrier" in 2013.
Money and economy remains a major influence upon the celebration of Christmas. Continued challenges with employment, inflation and worry over general economic conditions drives 77 percent of respondents to say they are planning to spend less in 2013, look for the lowest price and emphasize a more frugal Christmas than in seasons past. Economic conditions are requiring folks to spend more time in preparing for Christmas as 65 percent indicated that fewer resources requires more of their time, planning and creativity to complete their Christmas plans.
86 percent insist that economic realities in employment, inflation, higher taxes, and general uncertainty require them to spend less this year.
The Internet remains a popular place to do Christmas shopping with 43 percent saying at least some of their buying this year will occur online. 61 percent plan to visit a mall and 88 percent indicate Christmas will be purchased at major discount stores such as Walmart, Target, Toys R Us or Kmart. Similar to previous surveys, 83 percent do not plan to even start their Christmas shopping until December.
Pop artist Michael Buble is by far the most popular recording artist when it comes to contemporary Christmas music: 83 percent of Christmas survey takers said they want to see another Christmas album from him, despite the fact that most recent album came out in 2012.
96 percent said music was a favorite part of their seasonal celebrations with 66 percent expressing a preference for "oldies" from artists such as Bing Crosby, Perry Como or Dean Martin. Interestingly, the age demographic between 25-40 showed a strong preference for Christmas music popular three decades of more before they were born. 77 percent admit to influence from parents or grandparents in identifying their preferences in Christmas music.
23 percent plan to sing, perform or participate in a Christmas program featuring music in a church, school or community in the season ahead.
"It's a Wonderful Life" once again tops the survey as the most popular Christmas movie of all time, with 54 percent of respondents indicating it as their favorite. More than 68 percent say they will watch it again in 2013.
Other popular movies rounding out the top ten are: A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, Elf, A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Santa Clause, Miracle on 34th Street (1947), The Polar Express and The Muppet Christmas Carol.
83 percent indicated that a "new Christmas classic" was overdue, with 28 percent indicating a fresh dramatic remake of Dickens' A Christmas Carol
would be preferred.
97 percent plan to celebrate Christmas this year. Those not celebrating cite recent loss of a loved one, loss of a job or not enough money as reasons for foregoing Christmas in 2013.
67 percent said food purchases for Christmas 2013 would increase, while 73 percent said they will either host or attend traditional family events scheduled at Christmas time. 18 percent indicated that family reunions are held at Christmas time while 82 percent admitted that Christmas was the only time they saw or heard from extended family members through out the year.
43 percent plan to send Christmas cards through the mail, that number remaining fairly steady over the past three years after experiencing nearly a decade of declining popularity.
84 percent plan to have a Christmas tree in 2013, with 58 percent using an artificial tree over a real tree in 2013.
LED Christmas lights are growing in popularity with 64 percent now expressing a preference over traditional incandescent lights, finally reversing a stubborn trend. 81 percent express frustration with the expense of Christmas lights and 77 percent said they prefer to have the choice of LED versus traditional lights when they make their purchases.
66 percent said growing utility costs influence their purchases of Christmas lights and curtails their plans for bigger use of lights in decorating.
58 percent plan to hang stockings. 71 percent said they prefer an angel over a star at the top of their Christmas tree.
The popularity of Santa Claus is waning. 53 percent of survey respondents said Santa is an important element in their celebration of Christmas and only 48 percent maintain a positive impression of Santa Claus. 43 percent said Santa receives too much media exposure and a whopping 56 percent Santa improperly influences children at Christmastime. These are surprising results: past surveys indicated a steady approval rating hovering around 65 percent in years past for Santa Claus. While 81 percent profess a "belief" in Santa Claus 62 percent indicate plans to cut back on exposure to Santa for their children over the age of five. 84 percent of parents with children under the age of five plan either a visit with Santa Claus or a talk about Santa with their children this year, results that are consistent with past surveys.
Christmas and Religion
63 percent of survey respondents say that Christmas is a religious observance for them and more than 40 percent plan to spend time worshiping in a church during the week of Christmas.
21 percent of survey respondents claimed to be atheist, an all time high for the survey. Of those atheists surveyed 98 percent said they planned to celebrate Christmas. 99 percent of those surveyed identifying themselves as atheist said they are not bothered by public displays of religious symbols at Christmas or music with religious themes. Atheist survey takers overwhelmingly support charitable giving and service during Christmas with more than 94 percent planning to make it a part of their seasonal observance.
4 percent of survey respondents claimed non-Christian religious status. Of that small group 99 percent planned to celebrate Christmas, 81 percent indicating they would have a Christmas tree and 90 percent plan to participate in a community Christmas event.
Christmas and Charity
77 percent plan to give to a charity or a church in 2013 during the holiday season. 81 percent said Christmas is usually the time of year they make such donations, outside of local disasters.
81 percent said they prefer anonymous giving through trusted individuals or organizations such as Churches or the Red Cross.
Fewer than 20 percent of survey respondents could name the year Christmas became a federal holiday in the United States (1870). 98 percent indicated that it needed to remain a holiday, even since the vast majority identified Christmas as a religious observance. 78 percent do not feel it is inappropriate or inconsistent with the Constitution that Christmas is a federally observed holiday.
93 percent indicated a belief that there were three wisement, even though the Bible does not actually say how many people comprised the Magi.
91 percent identifed Dr. Seuss as the author of The Grinch, 94 percent identified Bing Crosby as the singer of White Christmas, and 100 percent agreed that Frosty was indeed a snowman. However, only 21 percent knew that Santa Claus was not born in America, 13 percent knew that Jingle Bells is not actually a Christmas song, and only 28 percent knew that Christ was not actually born on December 25th.
71 percent claimed knowledge of the words to Handel's "Messiah" but 97 percent said there is no Biblical proof of Christmas before Christ (even though the words used in Messiah come from Isaiah, written centuries before Christ).
Christmas and the Media
53 percent said the new media in America hates Christmas.
88 percent said the media reports only negative news of Christmas. 91 percent said they were "fed up" with the media coverage of The War on Christmas.
77 percent said the media only reports on the economy, money or commercial aspects of Christmas and 84 percent said the media purposely avoids reporting the religious aspects of the holiday.
The War on Christmas
81 percent said there is no war on Christmas.
95 percent believe the words "Merry Christmas" should be allowed in schools while 99 percent said those claiming to be offended by the words "Merry Christmas" are over reacting. 81 percent said the phrase "Happy Holidays" is not offensive but 64 percent indicated they would use the phrase in place of "Merry Christmas" in a situation where they were uncertain if use of the word "Christmas" might cause offense.
95 percent, consistent with years past, said use of the words "Christmas", "God" and "Christ" by any government entity does not violate the Constitution. 98 percent said that have a national Christmas tree did not constitute government "establishment of religion", as forbidden by the Constitution.
77 percent had a negative opinion of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. 68 percent said "Atheists want to take Christmas out of the American public".
63 percent said there was no harm with singing traditional Christmas carols with clear religious themes in schools. 78 percent said "O Little Town of Bethlehem", 81 percent said "Joy to the World" and and 82 percent said "Hark the Herald Angels Sings" should be permissible in public schools and at public events.
100 percent said it is a Christmas tree, not a holiday tree.
In a late addition to the survey, more than 1800 people were surveyed about the topic of "Christmas creep". Before Labor Day, 71 percent indicated no knowledge of the term "Christmas creep". After Labor Day only 21 percent claimed never having heard the term.
84 percent of survey respondents said they were not bothered with Christmas items for sale in stores as early as August and 63 percent said Christmas ads on television, radio and on the Internet were not inappropriate in August or September.
Following the news of Kmart's layaway ad that made national headlines the week of September 9th, 84 percent saw nothing wrong with the ad or the timing of it.
91 percent called "Christmas creep" an invention of the media (similar to The War on Christmas).