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Readers: Christmas is a secular holiday

December 8, 2009 Religion, Sunday Poll 14 Comments

To some Christmas is about the birth of their savior, Jesus.  But in the reader poll last week the majority of those planning to celebrate Christmas this year indicated, for them, the holiday was more about family & friends than the birth of Jesus.  Christmas, it seems, has become a secular holiday.

This has always been the case for me.  As a kid we’d go out to visit the grandparents on Christmas Day.  My maternal grandparents, both Mennonite, were deeply religious.  We’d have a single present per person, a big meal (with a prayer at the start) and spend time together.  They never had a Christmas Tree as far back as I can remember.  Too flashy.  Some years we didn’t bother to put up a tree either.

The poll results show those who view Christmas as a religious holiday are in the minority.

Q: December 2009 I will celebrate:

  1. Christmas (Dec 25th/Family/Friends) 75 (46%)
  2. Christmas (birth of Jesus) 59 (36%)
  3. Festivus for the rest of us 9 (6%)
  4. Winter Solstice 6 (4%)
  5. Hanukkah/Chanukah 5 (3%)
  6. Other answer… 4 (2%)
  7. No holiday 3 (2%)
  8. Kwanzaa 1 (1%)
  9. The Hajj 0 (0%)

Of the 162 responses, 134 (83%) indicated they’d celebrate Christmas. But of those 134 celebrating Christmas, 59 (44%) indicated it was about the birth of Jesus for them.  This is just 36% of the total.  Total unique visitors during the poll period was 2,7,91.

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "14 comments" on this Article:

  1. Bonnie says:

    They may THINK it is a secular holiday, but it isn't. If you are celebrating Christmas, it is about the birth of Christ. If you don't believe that, then you are celebrating something else – winter solstice, family togetherness day, etc. You cannot separate Christmas from the birth of Christ, try though you may.

    • JZ71 says:

      Much like how we're all celebrating the labor movement on Labor Day or the contribution/sacrifices by members of the military on Memorial Day?! No, many of us are aware of the original meaning and purpose of the holiday, but the contemporary reality is a combination of relaxation and time spent with family and/or friends and an opportunity to buy, buy, buy, with all sorts of special marketing efforts tied to the various holidays. That's why I both treasure and fear for the future of Thanksgiving – it's the one holiday where the focus is not on increasing retail consumption (Black Friday, yes, Thursday, and the days before, not so much) . . .

      • Bah Humbug says:

        Steve, you are drawing an unwarranted conclusion from your poll. The in simple terms, the logical fallacy is this: “Some people celebrate Christmas with secular activities, therefore Christmas is a secular holiday.” That people do secular activities on Christmas does not change the fundamental nature of the religious holiday which is, and as long as Christians exist will always be, a celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

        Many Jews probably take a crap (a secular activity in most people's book) on Rosh Hashana, but that doesn't change the fact that it is a religious holiday. They are wholly unrelated. As are grilling on Labor Day, football on Thanksgiving, and relaxing on Memorial Day. Not celebrating a holiday or taking the opportunity of a holiday to do some unrelated task do not affect the underlying meaning of the day to the people who do celebrate it. Neither do they have any bearing whatsoever on the historical and ritual significance of the holiday.

  2. ScottF says:


    Your poll is interesting, but I don't think you can conclude from this sample set that “Christmas, it seems, has become a secular holiday.” I agree that it probably is — it's just that this poll does not statistically represent everyone in the U.S. Just those who care about Urban Planning in St. Louis 🙂

    Also, I would like to point out that I would have chosen both Christmas (Jesus) and Christmas (family/friends) if I could have, but I was limited to one option. I'm sure others fell into this bucket as well.

    • BillikenAron says:

      I think this poll says more about the secular progressive nature of Steve'e regular readership than about the population at large. And there is nothing wrong with that unless Steve tries to say it mean more.

  3. Mac says:

    Wait a minute. You have to ask yourself. What is being celebrated here on Dec 25th?

    1) Santa Angle: On one hand are digging on a big fat guy in a red suit, who delivers gifts to everyone in the world, in one night, all while flying around in a reindeer propelled sleigh…and eating small cookies and drinking milk at each house along the way (That's like 1 billion homes!!) Certainly Bonnie, a gift giving holiday qualifies as a secular holiday. No?


    2) Jesus Angle: On the other hand, a birthday celebration for some guy who will eventually rise from the dead but today is born via virgin birth, to a woman who was really a hooker, with a possibly gay father who ran around with 12 other dudes, and who can hear everything, that everyone on the planet whispers or even thinks…You know that guy? It's his birthday! Birthday's by definition are secular celebrations Bonnie.

    The underlying conundrum however is Santa Claus and Jesus, like most intelligent people on earth know, exist in the land of make believe. They aren't real. You know, like Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, Speed Racer and the like. Thinking people get this…And yet a large percent of the population (nonthinkers) seems to enjoy propagating the myth that one day one or both of these fictional characters will deliver or save us from something that we cannot even being to fathom. It's these people that scare me.

    Please people, start thinking and stop praying.

    • Matt says:

      Come on Mac! If you're going to generalize the Christian Christmas story at least get it close. The Christian story states Jesus already rose from the dead. The “hooker” you are possibly referring to is Mary Magdalen, not Mary the mother of Christ. As for Jesus having a gay father, that is one I have never heard! Do me a favor. Don't assume someone who professes a faith in Jesus Christ isn't intelligent. That is a presupposition that not only causes division but just isn't true. From the historical and academic errors in your statement above I would assume you have never studied the New Testament or the claims made within. Do that first then you can make any statement you want without sounding foolish.

      • Mac says:

        It sounds like you agree that XMAS is in fact a secular celebration, since you neglect to say otherwise?.?.? That's good.

        But first, you have to quit worrying about semantics Matt. Whether or not the hooker was Mary, Mary Magdalene or SpongeBob Squarepants doesn't matter at all. What matters is what's real and what's in the land of make believe.

        Don't let my minor inconsistencies with the New Testament get you down. The whole deal is a house of cards Matt. Your so called Savior, Jesus/Santa Claus/Holy Spirit, whatever his preferred name is, only exists in the minds of the faithful-READ: the nonthinkers. The whole entire story is make believe Matt. You might as well be reading Alice in Wonderland and waiting for the Flying Spaghetti Monster to show up and feed you meatballs. The point is Matt it's all a bunch of BS. They tricked you dude. The Dude, the Book…all of it…it's a wash dude. They fooled you into thinking that faith was where it's at. Ask yourself Matt, what is it that makes you faithful folk so special that you “get this” and all the other nonfaithful do not? Why are you so sure? I'll tell you why Matt, because by being faithful, you are by definition Not Thinking. Faith makes a virtue out of Not Thinking Matt. Why do you believe there's a being that can hear every thought you have along with everyone else's in the world, at the same time…Because you have the faith my friend and as a result are not thinking.

        Now, what should you do? I'll be happy to meet with you to discuss your options but will have to charge you for my time 😉

  4. Mac says:

    “Quit trolling. You are adding nothing to the conversation.”

    Seriously Fenian? Come on. I may have gone off on a tangent but I wasn't baiting anyone. And I certainly contributed more than you have…so, what you got?

    The bottom line (forgetting for a minute, my aforementioned views regarding the intelligence of the “faithful”), whether Bonnie or Matt or you want to admit it, is that XMAS has become the epitome of the secular holidays.–Greeting cards, gift giving, it's a birthday celebration, music, decorations et al. Wait, let's not forget the most important part….that God Damn Tree. Heck, I bet more than half the people who go to church on XMAS are C&E Christians-only showing up on XMAS & Easter..What's more secular than that?

    If you don't think so, you should tell us why.

    • Fenian says:

      Let me put it simply- you do not generate discussion, but rather shut it down when you label over 80% of Americans who self-identify with any religion as “non-thinkers”. You are intentionally disparaging Christians with your words and add nothing more than your assertion that all believers are tricked or something.

      This site usually lends itself to discussion, not self-righteous drivel that is condescending and hateful. When you say that “The underlying conundrum however is Santa Claus and Jesus, like most intelligent people on earth know, exist in the land of make believe. They aren't real.” you are calling me unintelligent. Did I come in here and disparage your beliefs, your ancestors or your family? You are trying to be insulting and that is why I called you out on trolling.

      Pro-tip: If you are really looking for constructive dialogue you do not start by insulting and making sweeping generalizations.

    • guest says:

      Mac, you have a very undeveloped view of faith and spirituality. You need to read more, listen more, and grow. Faith starts with compassion. A spiritual framework is built on compassion. God is among us. He is not above us. You are getting caught up in symbols and tradition and as a result are missing the message. Forgiveness, compassion, capacity to love and value others. These are all things that make up the foundation of all religions. Debating the merits of Santa Claus, gift giving, Christmas trees, and whether Joseph was gay all misses the true meaning of Christmas.

      • Mac says:

        Fenian & Guest. Let me make this a bit easier for you to swallow.

        I personally find it very disturbing, and in fact very extremely bizarre behavior that otherwise seemingly intelligent people go around talking/preaching/indoctrinating so very seriously about something as far fetched as, talking snakes and all hearing, omnipotent beings. Seriously. If I so much as tried to convince someone that Space Ghost and his monkey Blip were coming over for dinner, they would look at me (rightly so), like I was crazy. Religious/faithful folk don't seem to think this same logic applies to them, since we're talking about something so special (yet ridiculously outlandish) to their heart-they're faith. Why is that? Why/how are they so sure what they're doing is right and what I'm/others are doing is wrong?

        Expecting me or anyone else to converse rationally with people who think a magic man in the sky who watches what you do all day and disapproves heartily if you should happen to have sex with someone of the same gender or eat a lobster for instance, is batshit insane!!! That fully two thirds of my countrymen believe fervently in such things in no way alters the fact of its insanity/ridiculousness.

        Slowly but surely the percentage (about 15-18%) of the people in this world who think that religions and churches are nothing but con artists, masking as Holy Helpers is increasing, and for that I am truly blessed!


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